It’s been almost fourteen years since Dixie Chicks released their career-defining Not Ready To Make Nice album. That record was inspired by the aftermath of their disparaging, but absolutely warranted, comments about then-President George W. Bush concerning his handling of the Iraq War. Those comments effectively blacklisted the country superstars from the music industry and they spent the subsequent years touring the world for the rest of their significantly smaller, but still endlessly devoted, fanbase, collaborating with Beyoncé on a remix of Lemonade‘s “Daddy Lessons,” and guest-starring on “Soon You’ll Get Better” from Taylor Swift‘s Lover.
With “Gaslighter,” an anthemic power pop-influenced country banger, Dixie Chicks explore the advantages of compact and concise songwriting and explosive arrangements. The fiery track starts off with these scathing lyrics: “Gaslighter, denier/Doin’ anything to get your ass farther/Gaslighter, big timer/Repeating all of the mistakes of your father” These women waste no time and cut right to the chase, an example of their lyrical deftness and commitment to clarity. The term “gaslighting” has seen a recent resurgence in usage thanks to movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Essentially, it is a psychological term for a form of emotional manipulation where a group or single person covertly attempts to make an individual doubt their truth. This theme of this new single applies to most of the group’s career post-2006 and Natalie Maine’s brutal and lengthy divorce. Lyrically, the track is heartbreakingly reflective and unflinchingly autobiographical. To their credit, Dixie Chicks alleviate that thematic weight with a bouncy melody and an energetic vocal performance. Furthermore, the a capella hook in the song’s intro offers a sly way to introduce a soundscape that steadily builds as the track hurdles towards the end of its runtime. The crowning moment of the track, however, is when those heavy drums roll in after the bridge to give an extra punch to the final chorus. Just perfect.