One of the best things I have ever seen, aesthetically, was the part in the last Shania Twain tour during which she rode a circle around Montreal's Bell Centre on a pink neon saddle. Now, her first record since 2002, is like that pink neon saddle: over the top, laden with high femme significance, riotous and beautiful.
On first listen, there's a lot going on — reverb, hand claps, delicate keys, grids of percussion laid over augmented vocals, Spanish tunings, sing-along choruses, piano, weeping strings. It's all kind of historically ….
Over the course of four albums released between 1993 and 2002, Shania Twain dominated radio charts, destroyed sales records, and busted pre-conceived notions about where pop and country overlap on the Venn diagram of genre. She was a leopard print-clad icon — and a great one at that. She finally returns this week with the triumphant new LP Now, still draped in spots and on the upside of a decade that witnessed major changes to her voice (due to a condition called dysphonia, which she attributes to Lyme disease and stress) and a headline-grabbing divorce from now-ex-husband and longtime producer, Mutt Lange.
The singer has been adamant in the walk-up to this release that Now is not a divorce record.
There's always been something contentious about the borders of country music, borders that Shania Twain and Miley Cyrus have spent their very different careers exploring. In the Nineties "is this country or is it disco" culture wars, Shania scandalized Nashville propriety with her glam-rock flash and mirror-ball glitz, just a few years after Miley's dad Billy Ray Cyrus came out of nowhere with the ass-wiggling dance-craze blockbuster "Achy Breaky Heart. " Miley, of course, grew up playing Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel before turning into America's favorite sex-drugs-and-twerking shock-pop diva.
Shania Twain’s return to public life and performance is the foundation of one of this decade’s most remarkable comeback stories. If it seems ludicrous that an artist with three diamond-certified albums could possibly need a “comeback,” much less a remarkable one, it’s worth taking a minute to review the one-two punch that threw Twain’s life into quiet disarray. Her vocal cords were ravaged by dysphonia, a physical disorder induced by Lyme disease and exacerbated by stress that left her unsure if she’d ever be able to sing again.
From the mid-90s to the early 2000s, Shania Twain’s zingy country-pop was at its most potent. On songs such as Man I Feel Like a Woman, I’m Gonna Getcha Good and That Don’t Impress Me Much, the Canadian singer gave the genre a new lease of life, paving the way for the likes of LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood and – later – one Taylor Swift. However, vocal issues, Lyme disease and a messy divorce saw her career stall.
Now, the first new Shania Twain album in 15 years, has a strange dual existence. There are an abundance of questions and expectations that are being dragged behind it. Will she be able to achieve the kind of victories that she did in the .
I will cut to the chase – Now by Shania Twain is pure shit. So, why is she releasing it, er, now? You won't find the masterful pop of 'That Don’t Impress Me Much', nor the perfect 'Man! I Feel Like A Woman!' In fact, you won't find any exclamation marks on this album at all, only a long, drawn out ellipsis. .
Shania Twain enumerates many kinds of loss on “Now,” the first album she’s released since the end of her marriage to producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who helped the artist revolutionize country music in the 1990s with proudly pop-leaning hits like “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman. ”
There’s the loss of innocence she describes in “Poor Me,” which appears to recount Twain’s discovery that her husband was having an affair with her best friend. (“I wish he’d never met her,” she sings, “Then everything would be the way it was.
Given the number of records Shania Twain sold in the 1990s (quick reminder: it was roughly “seven bajillion”), it seems odd there’s not more fanfare surrounding her first album in 15 years.
However, one listen to ‘Now’ confirms that the world was right to ignore it. It’s an album of by-the-numbers country-infused pop, but with none of the hooks or charm that made hits like ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ so huge back in the day.