For the first time since 2006, a new Dixie Chicks song: The country trio released "Gaslighter" Thursday, the first single off their upcoming and long-awaited album, also titled Gaslighter. After two years of teasing the album, they announced it will be released May 1. As NPR reports, the band has never really gone away: They've performed, including with Beyonce; collaborated on a Taylor Swift song; two of them formed another band. But after lead singer Natalie Maines sparked outrage in the country music community with anti-George W. Bush comments in 2003, their next album, which came out in 2006, was their last. The Washington Post notes that "the term 'gaslighting,' or manipulating someone by making them question their own reality, has experienced a resurgence in the past several years because of our current political climate," and Esquire notes the video does include references "to old school political propaganda."
But Showbiz Cheatsheet theorizes "Gaslighter" is about Maines' recent divorce from her husband of 17 years, Adrian Pasdar. The song references moving to Hollywood for a partner's career; Pasdar is an actor. It also references the singer giving someone money ("Give you all my money, you gladly walk away / You think it’s justifiable, I think it’s pretty cruel"); Pasdar requested $16,427 per month in child support and $44,076 in spousal support from Maines. Saving Country Music argues that it was actually this era of Maines' life, not the Bush controversy, that led to the group's break-up and eventual reunion: "Maines specifically decided to walk away from the group to move to California and start a family"; now her kids are older and her marriage is over. Pitchfork gives the song a thumbs-up: "The songcraft is so compact, and their trademark sound so welcome and familiar, that its message of empowerment comes across equally jubilant and defiant." (Read more Dixie Chicks stories.)