“What a lie-lie-lie-lie,” Natalie Maines sings in “Gaslighter,” the long-awaited first piece of new music that the Dixie Chicks have released since the George W. Bush administration. Maines has hinted that the group’s upcoming album will chronicle her 2019 divorce, and the new single clears up any ambiguity.
The thinly-veiled autobiographical sing-along, which was produced by Jack Antonoff, is one part righteous indignation and one part post mid-life crisis emancipation, with a pulsing drum beat that’s sure to make “Gaslighter” the anthemic centerpiece of the group’s comeback. In the video, Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer have their hands on Natalie Maines, who’s sitting on a stool spilling personal details: “We moved to California and we followed your dreams,” she sings. “I believed in the promises you made to me.”
“Gaslighter” conjures Dixie Chicks standbys like “Not Ready To Make Nice” and “The Long Way Around,” songs that turn the group’s own personal turmoils into layered pop texts. The trio’s “Gaslighter” video, with its unsubtle political and historical imagery, uses Maines’ travails as a template for decades of personal and collective national pain.
The Dixie Chicks’ latest demands are that the gaslighters of the world listen to the harm they’ve caused. “I’m your mirror,” Maines sings at last, “Standing here until you can see how/You broke me.”