Shania Twain's new album offers even less twang for your buck than her
early work, with piano-heavy weepies and peppy Motown floor-stompers
Daily Mail - UK
By Graeme Thomson
September 23, 2017
Shania Twain, NOW | Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The puff accompanying Shania Twain’s first album for 15 years describes the 52-year-old Canadian as ‘the best-selling female country artist of all time’. Dolly Parton could make a strong case for an industry audit, but the more contentious claim is that Twain should be considered a country artist at all.
She may have started her career as such, but defining hits such as Man, I Feel Like A Woman! and That Don’t Impress Me Much are Friday night feminist anthems with a ruthlessly radio-friendly bounce, closer in spirit to Nando’s than Nashville.
Now offers even less twang for your buck. Home Now might feature twinkling banjo and Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl is a melancholy country-rock shuffle, but they’re mere rhinestone barnacles clinging to a sleek pop schooner.
You Can’t Buy Love is a peppy Motown floor-stomper; Soldier is a schlocky, piano-heavy weepie; Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed flits between tepid blues-rock and anaemic reggae; while More Fun is Mr Bojangles reimagined as crunchy modern soul. The hooks are industrial strength, and not always subtle. All the dusk and drama of the lovely Light Of My Life is scuttled by a plug-ugly chorus, like Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game shunted headlong into Russ Abbot’s Atmosphere.
It’s laser-guided stuff, utterly accomplished, zapping every demographic in plain sight. The only hint of a unifying personality comes via Twain’s powerhouse voice and soul-baring lyrics: since her last record, 2002’s Up, she has battled betrayal, divorce, dysphonia and Lyme disease – pretty much all the great country themes. Even then, punches are pulled.
On the irrepressible Life’s About To Get Good, she acknowledges her many tribulations while sounding about as bereft as the Dalai Lama. I’m Alright revisits her acrimonious marriage break-up – ‘You let me go, you had to have her, you told me so’ – but the clue is in the title.
Give Twain a fistful of lemons and she’ll rustle up a very decent glass of lemonade. Had she decided instead to mix a whisky sour, Now could have been truly compelling rather than merely refreshing.