This donít impress me much, Shania: ADRIAN THRILLS says the queen of
country popís return after years of turmoil is rocky - but not always in a good way
Daily Mail - UK
By Adrian Thrills
September 28, 2017
Shania Twain, NOW | Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Verdict: Muddled return
As lengthy sabbaticals go, Shania Twainís is right up there. The 15-year gap between her last album, Up!, and todayís return might pale alongside the 25 years it took Roger Waters to deliver this summerís Is This The Life We Really Want?
But it pips TLCís recent self-titled comeback (14 years) and knocks Blurís The Magic Whip (12) into a cocked hat.
The Canadian had signed off on a high in 2002. Singles such as That Donít Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman! were impossible to avoid in the late Nineties and early Noughties, and Twainís catchy blend of country, pop and rock had made her one of the best-selling female singers ever.
The intervening years have certainly not been dull. In 2004, she contracted Lyme disease and suffered nerve damage to her vocal cords. Six years later, her marriage to South African producer Mutt Lange ended in divorce after he had an affair with her best friend.
In a storyline worthy of one of those old Nashville standards that inspired her to take up singing in the first place, Shania sought solace in the arms of her former friendís estranged husband (are you keeping up?), and the two of them married in 2011.
With so many twists and turns, Ottowa-born Twain, 52, shouldnít be short of inspiration, and she duly tackles her emotional turmoil here. ĎI wasnít just broken, I was shattered,í she admits on Lifeís About To Get Good, while Poor Me finds her reflecting: ĎStill canít believe heíd leave me to love her.í
She also embraces her new-found happiness, although her candid outpourings tend to scratch the surface where they could have dug deeper.
With her former studio collaborator Lange now persona non grata, she also vacillates wildly musically. She juggles four producers here, with Surrey-born Ed Sheeran sidekick Jake Gosling, American keyboardist Ron Aniello, Grammy-winning pop songwriter Matthew Koma and roots rocker Jacquire King all taking turns.
As a result, Now is a muddled album. After opening with the tepid reggae of Swinginí With My Eyes Closed, Twain reasserts her credentials as the queen of country pop on Home Now, her singing augmented with banjo and fiddle.
Thereís a country-rock feel to We Got Something They Donít, too, though the most interesting track lifts Shania out of her Nashville bubble. With piano, strings and subtle synths to the fore, Whoís Gonna Be Your Girl makes the most of her creamy voice and is the best song here.
The big ear-worms arrive towards the end of the album, with You Canít Buy Love, a Sixties soul pastiche, and Lifeís About To Get Good, a honky-tonk hoedown that looks exuberantly forward.
Itís typical of Twain that, even in her darkest hour, she just canít quell those high spirits.