Detailing the different intimate stages of a divorce, The Chicks’ eighth studio album ‘Gaslighter’ is a cathartic release of emotions that hears Natalie Maines telling it exactly how it is.
It’s been 14 years since the iconic country music trio have released an album, so there was a lot of speculation around how this body of work would sound and feel. Teaming up with Jack Antonoff, who has most famously recently worked with Lorde, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Carly Rae Jepsen, they’ve taken their classic sound and brought it into a whole new light.
Opening with the fiery lead single and title track ‘Gaslighter’, they lay down the storyline of the ultimate betrayal in a marriage; cheating. With the lyric “cause, boy, you know exactly what you did on my boat” thrown into the second verse, this almost throwaway line ends up becoming a centrepiece for the rest of the album as they explore what actually happened on that boat.
Rolling into one of the albums catchiest and boldest tracks that whole heartedly deserves a place on heavy rotation radio, ‘Sleep At Night’ addresses the morality of how someone can actually live with tearing a marriage up so carelessly.
“My husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up, how messed up is that? It’s so insane that I have to laugh. But then I think about our two boys trying to become men. There’s nothing funny about that” Maines sings during the infectious but deep pre-chorus as she ponders the future of her children and their morality.
As the album progresses, they reflect on all the different sides of divorce from just trying to get by on ‘Texas Man’, understanding why no one can see the evil behind your ex on ‘Everybody Loves You’, reflecting on the past on ‘My Best Friend’s Weddings’, and learning to love yourself again on ‘For Her’.
However one of the most lyrical commanding songs on the album is ‘Tights On My Boat’. This is where Maine reveals all in one of the most sassy and empowering deliveries as she owns her pain.
Opening with the lyrics; “Okay, I hope you die peacefully in your sleep. Just kidding, I hope it hurts like you hurt me. I hope that, when you think of me, you can’t breath”, there is a little bit of angst driving her pain, and it’s so relatable. And as she leans into the bridge she sings; “And you can tell that girl who left her tights on my boat that she can have you now”. HUGE.
Keeping the production stripped back there is a distinct Julia Michaels feel to the delivery which is funny because she’s actually one of the co-writers on the track. It also has a very playful and direct attitude about it which helps make it so commanding and memorable.
The album cohesively stays in the post-marriage storyline throughout the full duration except for ‘March March’ which hears them offer some of their infamous political views. And they also get quite intimate on the emotionally charged ‘Julianna Calm Down’, ‘Young Man’ and ‘Hope It’s Something Good’.
Closing the album with the beautifully sombre ‘Set Me Free’, Maines asks for her ex husband to set her free of the emotional pain and hurt he’s put her through. It’s a very poignant and perfect way to close this deeply personal, angsty and emotional album.
“Decency would be for you to sign and release me. If you ever loved me, then will you do this one last thing? Set me free” she sings.
‘Gaslighter’ is an album that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish. It’s one that will have you feeling every emotional chord, every angsty lyric and every soulful melody. And while it has been 14 years in-between albums, this certainly makes up for the wait.