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Country trailblazer Shania Twain set for Sioux Falls show


Sioux Falls Argus Leader
By Scott Hudson
September 16, 2015


What: Shania Twain with Gavin Degraw

When: Sept. 23

Where: Denny Sanford Premier Center

Tickets: $46-$136 through Ticketmaster

Who is country music’s biggest influence these days? The answer might surprise you.

When you ask the current crop of chart-toppers, they’ll all inevitably give the traditional answers: Johnny Cash. Merle Haggard. Hank Williams. Do you really hear any elements of these classic artists in the songs of Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line or Jason Aldean? Do any of Taylor Swift’s tunes remind you of Donna Fargo, Lynn Anderson or Dolly Parton?

Of course not.

Like it or not, it’s a new era in country music. Instead of straightforward morality tales bathed in acoustic and steel guitars, today’s country chart-toppers are as flashy as Motley Crue and Warrant. The guitar work is pure rock; the drum sounds wouldn’t feel out of place in a dance club.

If these artists aren’t the next generation of Merle and Dolly, then who did lay the groundwork for today’s sound? It would have to be Shania Twain.

Musically, there’s no question. Her then-husband, Robert “Mutt” Lange, produced Twain’s landmark ’90s albums, including 1997’s “Come on Over,” the biggest-selling album ever released by a female artist. Originally known for his production work with AC/DC and Def Leppard, Lange used the same types of recording tricks first heard on “Back In Black” and “Hysteria,” particularly on the drum sounds.

The influence isn’t just the rock-based backing tracks. Lyrically, Twain introduced a different type of country song. Instead of telling stories of heartache and hard lives, Twain’s biggest hits tend to rely more on big hooks and catchphrases. Songs such as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” certainly set the stage for most of today’s country-pop.

Twain also opened the door for Taylor Swift’s move from country to pop radio, as she was one of the first to remix her songs for pop radio. In fact, after the pop remix of “Still the One” topped the charts, a European-only version of “Come on Over” saw the entire album excised of country elements. Obviously it worked, as the album quickly sold more than 4 million copies in the U.K. alone.

Unfortunately for her fans, little new music has been heard in more than a decade. Her last full studio album, “Up,” was released in 2002. She divorced Lange a few years ago and has battled issues with her voice. After many years off the road, she recently completed a two-year residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

This current tour, her first in 11 years, is also reportedly her last. Having turned 50 earlier this year, she recently explained to the Wall Street Journal that she didn’t want her live performance career to end on the Vegas strip. “I felt it was a strange way to finish my performance career, not being able to get around to the people. I want to feel that again.”

In that same interview, she promised that a new record is coming in the near future, and she’s even been recording while on the road. “I’ll probably be doing vocals on down days during the tour. I’ll take a mic on the bus. My voice will be good on tour, because I’ll be singing every day.”

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