The Chicks have another hit on their hands with their latest album, Gaslighter, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart after the project's July 17 release. The project also debuted at No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, giving The Chicks their fifth Top 10 album on the chart. Gaslighter launched with 84,000 equivalent album units earned, 71,000 of which came from album sales. The Chicks' new set is also the best-selling album of the week, hitting No. 1 on the Album Sales chart.
Gaslighter is The Chicks' first new album since 2006's Taking the Long Way, which also earned them a Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and debuted at No. 1. Other Chicks albums to hit the mark were Home, which went to No. 1 in 2002, Fly, No. 1 in 1998, and Wide Open Spaces, No. 4 in 1999. After Taking the Long Way, the trio took time off from music to raise their children, working on solo projects and reuniting in 2016 for a world tour, which they told NPR was the impetus for Gaslighter.
"It was putting our toes in the water, seeing who was still out there in fandom," Emily Strayer said. "Our demographic was still the same, but had changed as well, so we had mothers bringing daughters, we had all walks of life; it was just really, really a fun tour. I think after that, we're like, 'Okay, let's do another album.'" Gaslighter is The Chicks' signature sound of harmonies and strings with modern accents, which the three women harnessed with producer Jack Antonoff to create a project that's both intensely personal and relatable to their legion of fans.
While the trio initially found success in country music, Natalie Maines noted that she "never [has] identified as that." "I think we have acoustic sound and singer-songwriter [sound] but to me we're more bluegrass, if we're labeled in that arena," she said. "We're always going to have that rootsy sound because we're three-part harmony and fiddle/banjo/mandolin, but what we like to do is explore beyond maybe what that music would sound like naturally and try to broaden our sound. But The Chicks has always been different than country, for me."
Strayer, who plays the banjo, recalled the group signing its record deal with Sony and having people tell her, "Well, you know we're going to have to take the banjo off before we can put it on country radio." "Isn't that crazy?" she said. "And so we really did come up more through the acoustic bluegrass channels. So country was actually like this other world to us, and once we got there, we kind of had to break down those walls so that we could get our instrumentation on the album. We've always had to buck the system a little bit to be who we were and then once we were successful in country, then they welcomed us in and that was great, then they kicked us out. So we don't really know where we live anymore."