15 years have passed since Country superstar Shania Twain released her last studio album Up! The album was a huge success, further building on the breakout success Twain experienced with 1997’s Come On Over. In 2008 Twain’s marriage to longtime collaborator Mutt Lange came to an end after he left her for her best friend and around the same time a battle with Lyme Disease threatened to end her career after it left her vocal chords irreparably damaged. In 2012 Twain returned to music with her Las Vegas residency Still the One and this year she returned to making new music.
The first fruit of her labour was Life’s About to Get Good, a song which sounds perkier than it actually is. It deals with her difficult marriage breakdown and puts an optimistic spin on coming out the other end of a personal devastation much stronger. The song embraces the poppier side of Twain’s discography and it’s unmistakeably her.
The difficult period that Twain has battled through since 2002’s Up! is the inspiration for her new album Now. She has sole writing credits on all 12 of the album’s tracks and it’s her most personal work to date. Her voice is notably lower and a little huskier than on her previous work, which is due to the after affects of her fight against Lyme Disease. Opening track Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed gives you the chance to adjust to Twain’s vocal change during its low verses but once the chorus hits, you can her the power is still there. The track has a reggae-lite vibe and it’s a fighter’s anthem that is sure to resonate with Twain’s fans.
The tempo for much of Now is mid and the album is missing the uptempo numbers that gave Twain her breakthrough here in the UK. The Motown-influenced You Can’t Buy Love is one of the most uptempo moments here with its infectious beat and strong melody. The standout moment though is on the moody Roll Me On the River, which has a darker edge with a rock influence. It hints at the feistier side of the singer, which we all know she has.
Elsewhere on the record Twain reflects on finding out that her husband was cheating on her on Poor Me, there’s a ray of optimism on Light of My Life where Twain sings about falling in love again, and I’m Alright captures the moment where Twain realised that despite being heartbroken she would survive the hit and move on.
Now is a solid return for Twain but it misses some of the spark that her earlier material had. In part this is due to the heavy subject matter of the record, which is understandable given all that she’s been through. Now that she’s got her grief out the way and moved on with her life, I hope her next record focuses more on optimism and hope, than looking back at what’s happened. It’s wonderful to have Twain back and with Now she’s captured a difficult period in her life with brutal honest.
Track listing: 1. Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed 2. Home Now 3. Light of My Life 4. Poor Me 5. Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl 6. More Fun 7. I’m Alright 8. Roll Me On the River 9. We Got Something They Don’t 10. You Can’t Buy Love 11. Life’s About to Get Good 12. Soldier Record label: Virgin / EMI Release date: 29th September 2017