Shania Twain’s first album in 15 years drops at midnight ET
Country and pop shine a little brighter now that its biggest female crossover star has returned to the recording studio. True to the album’s name, Shania Twain updates her singular sound for the here and Now.
Many tracks on Now blend country instrumentation with pop production. This has been a winning formula for the multi-platinum “Queen of Country Pop”in the past. However, this album brings her sound into the 21st century.
In an age where the Taylor Swifts and Eric Churches of the genre are tipping the scale of the pop-country ratio, Shania brings her own mixtures of synths in with fiddles, mandolins, and banjos for something that leans significantly more pop for her than in the past.
The country arrangements are the accents, while the beats themselves take centerstage. “Home Now” features a synth drum heavily, pulling the pop elements in front of a subtle fiddle arrangement.
“Swingin’ with my Eyes Closed” and “Roll Me on the River” uses their country instrumentation to a pop rhythm, creating that classic Shania blend. “More Fun,” a song one would expect to be a jumping fiddle tune, is actually a power ballad to rival “From this Moment On.”
By-and-large a mid-tempo offering, the peppier songs on this album especially stand out. “Kiss Me and Make Up” could be the country-pop interpretation of the Sia hit “Cheap Thrills,” while “You Can’t Buy Love” is a wonderful sister song to track before the first single, “Life’s About to Get Good.”
However, Twain’s voice is never better than on the numbers that strip away production. The pieces “Because of You” and “All and All” really put the storytelling ahead of the music, the hallmark of any country record.
Speaking of “All in All,” it is one of two songs on the special Deluxe edition of Now. It tells the story of Shania’s career, specifically her rise in the 90’s, coupled with her struggle with vocal dysphoria. She paints her personal journey against the backdrop of the world, singing, “Love and hate they both burn/Peace and war they take Turns.” The second song, “Solider,” is a song of searching for love, set to an appropriately slow-marching melody.
Listeners to this album will notice a singular theme: Ms. Twain’s breakup from longtime partner in life and music, Robert “Mutt” Lange. While many of her songs cover the theme of love lost, they are obviously written at different periods in Twain’s life. She wrote every song on this record herself. In the latter quarter of the record, the songs become cheerier, as Ms. Twain chronicles her journey to discovering that can love again.
In this way, Now comes off as a musical diary. Many artists market their albums as “the most personal thing” they have done. But, underneath all the synthesized fiddles and subtle mandolins, Shania means it.