This guest blog post was sent to us by a listener of the New Driven shows who wishes to use the pen name: Koby Teith.
While this post is not about an indie artist, per se, Natalie Maines does embody the indie spirit. We thought this was so well written, our audience would want to have a read: (We apologize for the formatting issues toward the end of the piece. No matter what we did, WORDPRESS had a different agenda)
Natalie Maines’ voice has always kept her in the spotlight. For the most part, it kept her in the spotlight during the heyday of the Dixie Chicks’ years of dominance in Nashville. As their lead singer, that voice carried the trio to several years of award winning hits and major rotation on country music radio stations worldwide. That voice was also the sole reason that the record breaking music group was essentially booted from Nashville and boycotted by country radio. March 10, 2003 in London, Maines famously uttered these words: “Living history: A WWII vet’s tale of memory and healingAgainst all oddsJust so you know, we’re on the good side with you all. We do not want this war. And we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” With that single statement, that famous voice became infamous. Thus began the downfall of The Dixie Chicks. Ten years later, that voice is finally back. On May 7, 2013 Natalie released her first solo album, Mother. If listeners didn’t know prior to hearing this album for the first time, that this was the same Natalie Maines that lead the Chicks’ charge to stardom 15 years ago, they’d never believe it. Maines is almost unrecognizable on this record. Her voice is just as powerful as ever; just as incredible. With this record, she has taken her vocals to a different level. She has taken them to a superior place according to early reviews by several media sources and a few of her peers. On this album of ten mostly cover songs, Natalie Maines sets herself apart from her past, and on track to a promising future as a solo artist, if that is what she decides to do.
From the very first song, a cover of Eddie Vedder’s “Without You”, the voice is different. Gone is the distinctive country twang listeners had grown accustomed to hearing. In an interview published in the June 6, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone she tells writer Brian Hiatt, “I can’t listen to our second album, because I was really, like, embracing country and really waving that country flag. My accent is so out of control on that album. I’m like, ‘Who is that?” Not that it is really uncommon for a new country artist to play up the twang in their early years. Listen to Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, or Garth Brooks’ early work and it is hard to recognize those exaggerated, cheesy twangs. The fact that Maines acknowledges it, is what is most refreshing. She is honest and straight forward about it. As she is about most any topic she is asked about.
Mother shows a side of Maines that has always been there. She told CBS News in a recent interview, “To me, this album is the most natural music I’ve ever made. This is what I like, what I listen to, what I grew up singing songs like.”
In fact, she was not a fan of country music, never having listened to a country album before taking the industry by storm. She grew up a pop and R&B fan, and it shows on the album.
Her rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Mother”, the second song on the album, has a bluesy feel to it. She sings the lyrics just as Roger Waters penned them, changing no pronouns in order to deliver it from the perspective of a female. She glides past the lines “mother do you think she’s good enough for me/ mother will she break my heart” with ease. That is something of a rarity when hearing female artists cover a “man’s” song. Waters himself is a huge fan of her version according to Hiatt. He quotes Waters as saying he, “gets goosebumps just talking about it.”
The third and fourth songs, “Free Life”and “Silver Bell” are both buoyant and upbeat songs. She glides through both of these flawlessly, her voice dropping and maintaining a smoothness on “Free” that many vocal chords simply can not grasp.
The fifth song is where Natalie Maines begins to free herself from her past entirely. She covers the late Jeff Buckley’s “Lover You Should’ve Come Over” immaculately, claiming the song as her own. This is seven minutes and two seconds of emotional turmoil. Listening to this song, you would never believe that this voice used to sit atop the country music charts week in and week out. She eases into the steady paced “Vein in Vain”, slowly bringing her listener from the depths of despair that “Lover” seats them in. “Vein’ is a slower paced song than “Lover”, but it does not hit the emotions the latter does. From the upbeat “Trained” which she belts with
Producer Ben Harper, her neighbor who just happens to be famous for his steel guitar,
into “Come Crying to Me” and “I’d Run Away” she is all Rock-n-Roll. There is
absolutely no hint of the singer she once seemed to be. Finishing up strongly with the
ballad “Take It on Faith”, Maines leaves her listener astounded, and craving more.
The 2007 Grammy Awards, when the Chicks took awards in all five of the
categories they were nominated in, including Record of the Year and Song of the
Year, for “Not Ready to Make Nice” (their ultimate response to the controversy
and a final send off to Nashville and the entire country music establishment),
Maines told Hiatt, that she broke down in tears backstage. “I felt like, I won the war
and now I quit. I’m done”. Thankfully, for her loyal fans as well as fans of music in
general, Natalie Maines did not quit entirely. With Mother, she may not see the
commercial success and acquire the huge fan following she enjoyed, or maybe
endured, as a member of her former band. But it seems Maines is at peace with that.
In an interview released online May 30 2013, she told Chris Azzopardi of the
the Texas based LGBT website The Dallas Voice, “I don’t sit around stewing
over it or thinking about it at all, but if making nice means making a country
record and going back to that, then no, I’m not ready. I don’t have an issue
with country music fans. I don’t have an issue with country music artists. I
was very honest about my influences and the kind of music I came from —
and country was not it.” With this album, she has gone back to the music she
came from. If Mother is any indication of what is to come from Maines, if her
years with her former band are not already a long gone bad memory for her,
they surely will be soon enough.
Azzopardi,Chris. (2013 May 30). Natalie Maines:The Gay Interview.
Natalie Maines: Going Solo With Mother. (2013, May 12). Retrieved from
Hiatt, Brian. (2013 June 6). Natalie Maines: A Dixie Chick Declares War On Nashville.
Rolling Stone. Retrieved from www.rollingstone.com