While the Dixie Chicks delayed the initial May 1 release of its forthcoming album “Gaslighter” due to COVID-19, the band offered a comforting glance into the new record with its second single “Julianna Calm Down.”
Named for band member Emily Strayer’s daughter Julianna Robison, the song acts as a message of encouragement to young girls as they make their way through a relationship gone sour.
“Put on, put on, put on your best shoes, and strut the f— around like you’ve got nothing to lose,” lead vocalist Natalie Maines sings over pop-infused country strings.
Building up to a flourish of synth, percussion and classic Dixie Chicks string-plucking, Maines continually reminds a number of young women in the lyrics — from Julianna to Harper to Katie to Eva and more — that the bad times are temporary and the best we can do is keep on dancing.
Maines revealed via Instagram shortly after the song was released on Thursday that the names in the song are actually those of the daughters and nieces of Maines, Strayer and fiddle player Martie Maguire.
The single comes as a contrast from the album’s angstier and more avenging title track “Gaslighter,” which calls out the selfishness, dishonesty and gaslighting tendencies of a former lover. But the track contrasts mainly and most notably from the Dixie Chicks classic country and lyrical content of decades past, a testament to the band’s work with famed pop producer Jack Antonoff on the new record.
The all-around contrast that comes with “Julianna Calm Down” is a welcome one, as it so perfectly demonstrates that the band hasn’t lost its versatile touch in the 14 years since its last record. In the three decades since the band’s formation, the Dixie Chicks have charmed audiences with honky-tonk country, bluegrass, pop and country-rock sounds.
While the lyrics to “Julianna Calm Down” more explicitly advise the younger generation on what to do in a downward-turned relationship, the Dixie Chicks has given us universally applicable advice. As we navigate the mental and emotional tolls that come with a pandemic, we’ve got to remember to calm down, as this is a “temporary situation,” as Maines sings. Now is the time to put on our best shoes and strut around like we’ve got nothing to lose — because we don’t.
Edited by Sophie Stephens | firstname.lastname@example.org