Shania Twain has her future mapped out

The Regina Leader-Post
By Lynn Saxberg
October 15, 2015

When Shania Twain appears on the stage at the Brandt Centre on Sunday night, she will be at the centre of an elaborate spectacle involving multiple costume changes, a seven-piece band, dazzling lighting and pyrotechnics, and even a flying saddle. Thousands of fans will cheer wildly and sing along to hits like Man! I Feel Like a Woman, That Dont Impress Me Much and Any Man of Mine.

The fans wont be the only ones having a blast. Twain says shes having great fun on her Rock This Country excursion, her first concert tour in more than a decade, although shes still calling it her final tour.

Part of the reason is that its such an ambitious production it would be difficult to repeat, Twain explained in a recent interview. Adding extra dates to the current tour is a possibility, but mounting another big adventure sometime in the future?

Not likely.

I could see myself carrying this tour on longer, said the 50-year-old pop-country superstar. It might be hard to stop it, thats for sure. But I just dont see myself starting over again with it. To do this from the ground up, its just not where I see my future.

Instead, Twain wants to focus on her songwriting. So far, she has two albums worth of new material ready to take into the studio, but not yet ready for the stage.

I want to make more records, and the songwriting is a very important part to me, she says. I dont think I can do both at the same time. I can only wear one hat at a time.

Its very distracting being on the road and the things that come with that. All the songwriting that I did for this album is done. I did it beforehand, and its just become very clear to me that when Im performing, Im not writing and when Im not performing, Im writing. Im in a different zone. The performing artist is a different person than the writer. Thats a whole other part of my brain that just cant have all that distraction. I have to isolate myself to make that happen.

The only glitch in the tour of late is a nasty respiratory infection that resulted in Twain cancelling shows in Manchester, N.H., on Oct. 6 and Albany, N.Y., on Oct. 7. She returned to the stage on Oct. 11 at Torontos Air Canada Centre and appears ready for her shows on Sunday and Monday at the Brandt Centre.

With more than 75 million albums sold including studio, compilation and live albums the pride of Timmins, Ont., is considered the biggest-selling country female in history, and an artist whos had an influence on a generation of younger stars, especially Taylor Swift. But she hasnt released a new album since 2002s Up!

No wonder theres pressure to come up with new material. All eyes are on Twain to see if she can craft the hits without the help of her ex-husband, super-producer Robert Mutt Lange, who was instrumental in co-writing, producing and shaping the multimillion-selling sound of her top three records, starting with 1995s The Woman In Me.

(In one of musics most complicated soap operas, he left Twain for her best friend about seven years ago, and then Twain later married the ex-friends ex-husband. Lange and Twain have a 13-year-old son who spends time with both parents.)

But the Canadian Music Hall of Famer is quick to point out that shes done plenty of songwriting on her own.

I wrote my whole life, she says. Ive always written by myself, since I was a kid. Mutt was my first co-writing project. But as a recording artist, this will be my first independent writing project.

As for new directions, the songs that are already written are some of the most personal shes ever tackled.

I think vocally it will be very identifiable, she says. I dont think Im that different there. Anybody whos heard it so far says its very haunting, inspiring. Itll be more soulful than anything Ive ever done.

Twain was initially hoping to release new music in time for the tour, but didnt get it done during her two-year residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, which ended late last year. Then she opted to let the momentum of the Vegas show propel her into the tour.

The hope was to get the album done sooner, she says. I really thought by the time I was in my second year, I would already have new music to play, and that didnt happen. Its just really hard to do both at the same time, but I decided to do the tour because the team was already together. I thought, Oh, brother, if I shut it down now, I really dont think its ever going to happen, so Im glad I kept everybody together and we did get this tour together. But the new music didnt happen so this is where the timing didnt work out very well for me.

When the tour was announced in the spring, Twain was hinting shed have new tunes out by her 50th birthday on Aug. 29. Shes now extended that deadline: Id love to at least get the first single out by then. If the rest of the album emerges before she turns 51, shell be happy.

The half-century mark feels like a milestone for Twain, at least partly because her mother and stepfather died in a car accident in Northern Ontario before they reached the same age. Fit and healthy, Twain says shes probably more active now than she was 10 years ago.

I dont feel any age, to be honest, she says, agreeing with the notion that 50 is the new 30.

Still, one thing thats been widely discussed is Twains newly blond hair. Evidence of a mid-life crisis? Nope.

I dont mind playing around with colour a little bit, she says. In Vegas, my hair was quite red. Ive got two blond sisters and I was always the only brunette, and my own son is blond so I figured Hey, its in my genes, Im going to play with it and have some fun with it. Its just a fun thing to do.

Whether blond, brunette or redhead, Twain will have her work cut out for her in cracking the male-dominated landscape of the modern country scene where bro-country is all the rage.

I think its a phase, she says. I think music goes through those phases, all genres do. I think its just that time for country right now.

Given the cyclical nature of the music business, things might work out in her favour in the end anyway.

It could be great timing for me.

Maybe its time to make way for women again.

Maybe youll see me in a coffee house somewhere doing my new music.

Shania Twain

Oct. 18 & 19

Brandt Centre