Shania Twain still does what she does best on new album Now
Let me just take you back 20 years, to the year 1997. Shania Twain releases her album Come On Over and it becomes one of the best selling records of all time. In 2002 she returns with Up! which might have sold a little bit less, but still outperformed her peers by a landslide. That, however, was the last major release we got from her and while we were still singing ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ for our lives in the karaoke bar, Shania herself was going through a divorce, dealt with dysphonia and lyme disease, but came back earlier this year with the hopeful and infectious single ‘Life’s About To Get Good’. Today she drops her album Now, 15 years after her last one dropped. And God, did we miss her!
I’m happy to report that her sickness does not seem to have affected the tone of her vocals too badly. Yes, she sounds more raspy and mature than before, but she still sounds unmistakably like herself. And so does her music! The album kicks off with catchy upbeat country inspired pop tune ‘Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed’ that even serves some reggae vibes in the verses. It sounds like she just continued where she left things off in 2002 and manages to not sound out of place in 2017 at all. ‘Home Now’ offers a bit more of a country vibe with the infectious banjo going on, while ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl’ is in her signature country pop ballad style, which partly paved the way for the success of acts like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.
It would be exaggerating to call Now a proper country pop album though, as Shania incorporates way more styles and influences. The sometimes clumsily worded ‘More Fun’ (“It’s Monday and I hear you when you say you hate that day. Yeah, me too, but there is nothing much about it we can do.”), heavily flirts with modern day soul and Shania’s voice shines. ‘Poor Me’, a song on which she tries to tell herself not to drown in self pity but can’t seem to get over a break up, probably is the most contemporary track on the album. The modern day production works for the chorus that quickly moves from punchy (in a similar vein to Halsey’s ‘Hold Me Down’) to beautifully soaring, while never not being an ear worm. The playful ‘Let’s Kiss and Make Up’ seems to be Twain’s take on the tropical house trend, with a similar vibe to Omi’s world wide hit ‘Cheerleader’.
For Now, Twain at least co-wrote every tune and worked with writers and producers Jake Gosling, Ron Aniello, Jacquire King and pop star Matthew Koma. This mostly results in well-written, catchy radio pop that, if receiving enough airplay, could again appeal to a large and diverse demographic. Of course a Twain record would not be complete without a few good old ballads. With ‘I’m Alright’ she delivers the hopeful sing-along-around-a-campfire kind, while ‘Where Do You Think You’re Going’ serves Bond soundtrack levels of drama. Both extremes are more than welcome on an eclectic, but cohesive record like Now.
The only slight flaw to be found here is in the lyrical department. Both ‘Light Of My Life’ and ‘You Can’t Buy Love’ are drenched in cliches, which can’t really come as a surprise looking at their titles to begin with. This however is only a minor detail on a record that proves Shania Twain’s relevance in today’s pop industry. Her voice gained character and her melodies are as impeccable as they have always been. Now might not serve us something as iconic as ‘You’re Still The One’ or ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’, but does leave us with more than enough to enjoy!