Until a few weeks ago I never thought much about Natalie Maines. Then for whatever reason I read an article a while back about how it had been a decade since her infamous "We're ashamed of George W. Bush" comment. Criticizing a Republican sitting President is a pretty ballsy thing to do when you're a country singer. It's one thing for Ted Nugent to talk about wanting to murder Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, or for Green Day to release American Idiot, but Natalie quite simply bit the hand that feeds. It was a potential career killer, and even though their next album went multi-platinum, nobody seemed to wonder too hard when they went on hiatus. Politics in the United States have become even more radicalized, if that was possible, two of the Chicks became Court Yard Hounds (from what I can tell, far removed from pot-stirring statements like "Not Ready to Make Nice.") And Maines seemed to disappear altogether, only resurfacing now with a workable album of covers with Ben Harper. She has a good ear, picking mostly obscure tunes, including one from the venerable Dan Wilson, and doing a fine, fine job with Jeff Buckley's "Lover, You Should Have Come Over." But it's the title track, the Pink Floyd cover, that will get the attention.
Maines' situation does indeed resemble that of Roger Waters' Pink character from The Wall. Having violated the unspoken contract between the performer and audience, the singer becomes isolated, searching, seeking the comfort of the womb and building the wall. Natalie sings it more beautifully than Waters could (not hard,) warming up the detachment and really hammering the spirit of the song home. This cover, this album, is a great statement of self, a release from the cocoon of former country divadom and into the world of mature adult mainstream rock - the cathartic breaking down of the wall. People should hear it.