After a long and tumultuous journey towards a proper comeback, the beloved Dixie Chicks are once again putting their upcoming album Gaslighter on the backburner. On the surface, the postponement aligns with decisions across the music industry to push back major releases until things gain some semblance of normalcy. (Whatever that still means!) But just beneath the surface looms the album’s intertwinement with Natalie Maines’s three-years-long divorce from now ex-husband Adrian Pasdar.
A statement from the trio, per Variety, says: “[The] highly anticipated fifth studio album, Gaslighter, originally scheduled to drop on May 1, 2020, via Columbia Records, has been postponed. Additional details are forthcoming.” At press time, there has been no official information about the delay from Maines or her bandmates, sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, aside from a brief Instagram clip shared by all three band members. Reps for the band did not immediately get back to Jezebel’s request for comment.
The news also comes after the full, finished album was heard by various critics and journalists earlier this year.
The current stasis of the music industry aside, Gaslighter has already run into a spate of problems. On July 3, 2017, Maines filed for divorce from actor and husband Adrian Pasdar, setting in motion one of the more contemptuous divorces in recent Hollywood history, during which Pasdar waged a long and bitter war over Maines’s finances and their original prenuptial agreement. As The Blast reported at the time, Pasdar “claimed poverty to the court asking that Maines to be forced to pay him $60,000 a month in support.” Pasdar also filed motions in September 2019 to permanently stall the then-secret Dixie Chicks album until the court could rule on whether it invalidated the couple’s confidentiality agreement. Maines contested his filings. Her lawyers, according to the Blast, claimed he couldn’t have it both ways—the prenup was either binding, or it wasn’t.
In December 2019, Pasdar and Maines finally reached a divorce settlement, which was kept private and not filed with the court. “Gaslighter,” which is reportedly about Pasdar, suggests that his attempt to halt the Dixie Chicks’ new album was unsuccessful, and he has not filed new suits against Maines in L.A. County, where divorce proceedings took place. Additionally, since Maines and Pasdar’s settlement was confidential, it’s unknown if their prenuptial agreement—which included that all-important confidentiality clause—was deemed valid. In a March cover story for Allure, writer Danielle Pergament mused, “I am meeting the Dixie Chicks to not discuss their new album, Gaslighter. It is their first in 14 years, but due to ongoing legal disputes, we cannot talk about it.” Later in the interview, she added: “The Dixie Chicks are not allowed to talk about [the album], and I’m not allowed to ask.”
The Instagram video shared by Maines, Maguire, and Robison shed little light on the delay. Likewise, the Allure profile only complicated the growing mystery around the album and why the band was forbidden from talking about it. But based on Pasdar’s filings, it’s clear he was worried about how Maines might portray their marraige on the album. What else could possibly be hiding in the liner notes?