Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines gave more details on the trio’s highly anticipated fifth album on the “Spiritualgasm” podcast this week, announcing that the album was tentatively titled Gaslighter and that it was in partly inspired by her ongoing divorce from actor Adrian Pasdar. The group’s first studio album in over 13 years will feature production by pop hitmaker Jack Antonoff and is set for release in 2020.
Maines talks about the album around the one-hour mark. “I had a lot to say,” she said. “Songwriting is really hard for me, and I think for many years, I didn’t want to analyze my life or my relationship. I was just in it and dedicated and devoted, and if I had started writing songs about it … I don’t want to say I was in a ‘survival mode,’ but I was just not ready to open up like that.” (In the middle of ongoing divorce proceedings in August, Pasdar requested the court to give him access to all of Maines’ unreleased music, claiming that it violated a confidentiality clause in their prenuptial agreement.)
She went on to explain that this will be the band’s final album under a seven-album contract with Sony, following four studio records and two live albums from 2003 and 2017. Before Maines’ divorce, the band initially planned it as a covers album – “real easy, turn it in, get the money, be free agents,” she said. “But then my relationship fell apart, and I had a lot to say.” (A rep for Sony said no decisions have been finalized on album title, release date or touring, but did not comment on the group’s contract.)
The group’s previous album, 2006’s Taking the Long Way, was their first collection of entirely original songs and largely dealt with the backlash surrounding Maines’ controversial remarks towards President George W. Bush. The controversy led to the Dixie Chicks being all but banned from country radio, but Taking the Long Way, whose sound leaned closer to adult contemporary and rock, was a critical darling, taking home five wins at the Grammy Awards including Album of the Year.
“Our last album was the most personal and autobiographical we’ve ever been,” said Maines. “And then this one is 10 times that.” When asked about the album’s name, she said that its working title is Gaslighter, which is also the title of one of its tracks.
Maines also hinted at a 2020 Dixie Chicks tour, saying the band had just received their “routing” (i.e. tour map) and mentioning arenas as a possibility.
In addition to details on the new album, Maines went into her decision to “take time off” from music (not counting a 2013 solo album) following the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy sweep. “You have these dreams, and I had surpassed all of my dreams,” she said, adding that it had also been difficult for her and Pasdar to raise their children as two working parents. “To make a record means you have to tour. It’s a whole cycle. It was easier when the kids weren’t in school – you just bring them [on tour] – but once they got their own lives, we didn’t want to make their lives about us and our careers … I just wanted to be a mom.”