Preview: Country superstar Shania Twain returns with a farewell tour

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Scott Mervis
July 9, 2015

Like Garth Brooks, that other crossover country star who popped up earlier this year, Shania Twain did a masterful of job quitting while she was ahead, leaving people wanting more -- or whatever cliche you want to use.

Although the Canadian singer has four albums to her credit, her mega-stardom lasted for all of two records, 1997's "Come On Over" and 2002's "Up!," and the two tours that supported them.

With fans still waiting for the follow-up, the 49-year-old Twain now hits the road on the Rock This Country Tour, her first in 11 years, to say goodbye.

Sort of. Maybe.

"It's certainly not my retirement from music," she said in a teleconference. "I will be doing music, I'm sure, until the day I die. I love music too much. But the performance side of it, I feel, is a phase in my life, and I've been doing it for so long. I'm 50 this year, I've been on stage since I was 8 years old, and I've really put in my fair share of performance.

"And I'm feeling that the time is just right now to do other things, musically. I want to write more, I want to make lots more records. I miss making records, and I haven't made enough records in my life and in my career. I've done a lot more live performing than I have recording, so I want to do a lot more of that."

A few things got in the way of her recording more albums. Like a lot of performers, especially in the country genre, the Switzerland-based singer wanted to be a parent, to her son Eja, who was born in 2001. More problematic was her bout with vocal dysphonia, tension in her vocal cords that did not allow her sing.

And then there was the painful personal drama between her and the man who crafted her stardom, Robert "Mutt" Lange. The veteran writer/producer who made his name working with AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner and The Cars married Ms. Twain in 1993 and was at the helm of her last three albums. In 2008, they separated after he had an affair with her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud. They divorced in June 2010, and in a marital swap, she has since married Ms. Thiebaud's ex-husband.

She opened up about that, and her tragic childhood experiences growing up with poverty and abuse, in her 2011 autobiography "From This Moment On." It's the stuff of a juicy biopic and certainly experience that would fuel a songwriter.

"It's a very personalized songwriting and therapeutic process for me. I'm pouring my heart out in the music," Ms. Twain said.

"I think there are going to be a lot of unexpected elements to the music for sure because I am writing it all myself. Lyrically, I'm still doing the self-reflection and writing in that vein. I'm just different now and I've lived a lot of different things since then, so the stories and the themes will be obviously different and will reflect how I've evolved."

Ms. Twain, who has sold more than 75 million albums, created some of the glossiest sounding country-pop in the late '90s, early '00s with such hits as "Man, I Feel Like a Woman!," "You're Still the One" and "That Don't Impress Me Much."

With her next record, Shania is hoping for less sheen.

"I'm leaning towards wanting the music to sound more organic than my previous stuff. Less slick maybe in that sense -- a really live feel to things, and with a contemporary edge to everything."

Album No. 5 didn't come together in time to launch this tour, which follows her two-year residency in Las Vegas.

"The timing of the tour was decided on not leaving too much of a gap from when my residency finished in December," she said. "At the same time, I was hoping that my album would be further along by the time I finished my residency. It was just one of those things where the timing didn't work out very well."

But she's busy at work, recording demos while she's on tour.

"I'll have a very portable setup and I just sing and record my vocals. It's how I do my demos and you can be electronically connected with your producer wherever they are. And the producers will come out to me as well while I'm touring, and we'll just poke away at it like that. There's just various ways to do this now that is pretty efficient, very effective."

The timing problem, and the reason this might not really be her goodbye, is that she wants to be able to perform the songs from her comeback album.

"I'm dying to do it. If the album progresses quickly enough and the timing works out, then I might very well just put one or two songs in closer to the end of the tour. It would bum me out to not do some of those songs live."

For the moment, she just wants to connect with fans she left behind all these years.

"A lot has happened over the last decade since I've been off tour in all of our lives, my life and in their lives, and music is bringing us back together. And we're going to celebrate and reminisce to all of the hits that they know and that we've all lived with for all of these years now.

"And, in my case, a lot of the kids that were listening to the music years ago, that I would have seen on tour years ago, are going to be adults now, and it's just exciting for me to be able to be reunited with them. And I have to say that the most rewarding thing for me, and the thing I'm looking most forward to on this tour, is seeing the fans and being with them again and feeling their excitement and sharing mine with them."

Shania Twain

Where: Consol Energy Center, Downtown.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Tickets: $43-$129;