With Queen of Me, Shania Twain Continues Her Reign as the Ruler of Country-Pop

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In the new Netflix documentary Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, the country-pop singer’s longtime manager Jon Landau recalls the first conversation he had with the then-rising artist. “She wanted to cross over to pop, she wanted to be an international superstar, and she wanted to be an absolutely top touring artist. Those three goals, clear as a bell, first time I talked to her.”

At the time, following the release of the commercially successful The Woman In MeShania Twain was a bright new star in the country music world, carving out an entirely respectable path for herself as a woman in the historically, blatantly male-dominated landscape that is Nashville. For Shania, though, the vision was bigger; she knew she could be bigger. And she was right.

Shania Twain completely changed the game throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s. (Some even credit her with further popularizing the midriff trend after her music video for “What Made You Say That.”) There wasn’t anyone quite like Shania — she was country, pop, confident, sensual, relatable, confident, and charming, and all with the musical sensibilities to back it up. Here, more than 20 years removed from those releases, some people might have forgotten that Twain plays guitar and has writing credits on the hits that can immediately send the listener to another time and another place.

Twain has always given herself the space to explore and experiment — one of her first major risks was refusing a tour after cleaning up at the Grammys and Country Music Awards for The Woman In Me, believing a tour would distract her from writing the album she knew she had waiting in her. Her discography is far from one-note, instead empowering and clever in some places, unabashedly romantic and even campy in others. Remembering who Shania has been at so many different points throughout her sprawling career helps to contextualize her new album, Queen of Me, out in full on Friday, February 3rd.

The days of blazing trails are behind Shania Twain, and that’s perfectly all right. After a difficult battle with with Lyme disease and dysphonia led to severe vocal damage and intense rehabilitation, it’s a joy to see her continuing to sing at all, and gearing up for a major tour while she’s at it. The album’s pre-release singles, “Waking Up Dreaming,” “Last Day of Summer,” and the particularly addictive “Giddy Up!” offered a good look into what we could expect from the album as a whole, which is Twain primarily in her lower register and enjoying herself with some playful, breezy country-pop tracks.

In addition to “Giddy Up!,” another highlight of the album’s twelve tracks arrives with “Got It Good,” an optimistic, mid-tempo offering that doesn’t feel all that dissimilar to Miley Cyrus’ latest smash, “Flowers.” “I’m not letting go of your heart/ I’ve got it good,” she sings simply.

The closing track was produced by Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots, who trades his more typical alt-rock sounds and aesthetics for more standard, acoustic-forward fare that plays it relatively safe but also feels appropriate for this chapter of Twain’s story. Joseph appears in production credits on the album alongside Grammy-winning pop producer Adam Messinger, Mark Ralph, and David Stewart. Joseph also features on “The Hardest Stone,” where an electronic opener and airy vocals do cascade into the riskiest, most genre-fluid track on the album.

Twain has proven herself time and time again to be a great writer, but there are moments in this record that don’t quite meet the bar she’s set for herself over the years. “I cut you out when you cut me deep/ So I deleted our history/ Because you’ll always be the same old you, but I’m a brand new me,” she sings on “Brand New.” A first pass with title track “Queen of Me,” similarly, might not stick the landing or feel completely authentic, with cliches like “I’ve got a life of so many other amazing things to do/ I’m following my dreams/ You can’t be king of everything because I’m busy being queen of me.”

Even so, no one can remove Shania’s crown; even if there are some places where Queen of Me falls a bit flat, her legacy speaks for itself. The twelve tracks in this album encompass her first full release since 2017, and, if nothing else, it feels wonderful to still have Shania’s distinct voice and genuinely unique perspective in our lives. At the end of the day, she’s still the one.

Catch Shania Twain on tour; tickets are available here.

Essential Tracks: “Got It Good,” “The Hardest Stone,” “Giddy Up!”

Queen of Me Album Artwork:

With Queen of Me, Shania Twain Continues Her Reign as the Ruler of Country-Pop
Mary Siroky

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