I was five years old when my mom first introduced me to Shania Twain. I remember sitting in the car and falling in love with “If You’re Not in It for Love (I’m Outta Here)” and “No One Needs to Know” off of The Woman in Me. Shortly after came Come On Over with such smash hits as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” as well as personal favorites “Whatever You Do! Don’t!” and “From This Moment On.” Up!, however, was the real game changer. Shania released a pop version of the album and a country version. And then, besides a greatest hits album with a couple new tracks and a single here and there, Shania didn’t release another new album for fifteen years. During that time, she had a child, moved to Switzerland, and was cheated on by her husband and frequent collaborator, Robert John “Mutt” Lange. After a messy divorce and subsequent remarriage, Shania had a short-lived reality show on OWN. In 2015, she announced her farewell tour (which I was lucky enough to attend). After all that emotional turmoil and a battle with dysphonia (a neurological disorder that affects the vocal chords), it seemed that Shania was leaving the entertainment business for good.
But, whatever had dimmed Shania’s enthusiasm must’ve been conquered because, come 2017, she dropped her first full-length album in fifteen years. It’s a triumphant return to the pop country genre that she helped popularize. And, with a whopping sixteen-track deluxe album, this pop country diva has proven you can’t keep her down for good. And now, here is a track-by-track review of the album:
- Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed: This upbeat track is all about just letting go and enjoying life. Shania lets some serious belts out on this track, mirroring her sense of freedom and fun. It makes you feel like you could take on the world or like you should gather your friends for a road trip. It’s one of my favorites on the album.
- Home Now: This song is almost folksy with its bouncing banjo and theatrical presentation. This song looks at the positives of Shania’s journey, reflecting on how she went through some hard times but now she’s back doing what she loves. It almost feels like the kind of song you would sing in a pub with drunken strangers. It’s another favorite.
- Light of My Life: This song was a grower for me, mostly because of how little the verses and the chorus fit together. The verses are haunting, the minor key emphasizing Shania’s longing for this man who doesn’t notice her. The chorus, meanwhile, is bouncy and upbeat, declaring him her “little piece of the pie.” It’s jarring at first, making it difficult to get a grasp on the song. And yet, while I still vastly prefer the verses, the song as a whole has grown on me. In fact, the song is almost funny and realistic in its tonal dissonance. When you have a crush on someone, you often find yourself waffling between desperate longing and bubbly adoration. Despite my early reluctance, this song has become one of my favorites.
- Poor Me: This song grasps onto the haunting tone of the “Light of My Life” verses and runs with it. However, this time the topic is about her cheating ex-husband and how was coping. She’s drowning in self-pity and wondering what could have been if she hadn’t found out. There’s also a neat parallel between “poor me” and “pour me…another.” It’s honestly another favorite.
- Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl: This song finds Shania dealing with a man who is having trouble committing, in favor of running around and being free. Shania croons about how she’s the one who’s going to be there when all the fun turns bad. However, she’s not promising to wait for him; on the contrary, she “walks[s] the wire and it falls away.” She’s starting to realize her own happiness is wavering. In this way, the song comes across as more of a warning rather than a promise to wait patiently. It also weirdly sounds like a campfire song. It’s another favorite of mine.
- More Fun: This track is more pop/rock than pop/country, heavy, pendulum-like guitars punctuating the chorus. It’s about being excited for the weekend after a long week of work. It’s the clear counterpart to Up!’s “C’est La Vie” which talks about not letting the humdrum of day-to-day life get to you. While I never loved “C’est La Vie,” it’s clearly the superior track of the two. Rather than more fun, this song feels like more filler.
- I’m Alright: This ballad chronicles the moment when Shania’s ex-husband told her he was leaving her for her best friend. She talks about the crushing despair and the overwhelming feeling of pain. However, the chorus finds her sometime after that moment finding some peace and clarity. She puts her problems into perspective, deciding that as long as she’s still alive she’ll be okay. Even if she won’t always feel happy, she’s “alright for now” and that’s enough. For such a sad song, it’s strangely hopeful. It’s also another favorite of mine.
- Let’s Kiss and Make Up: This song is the most pop on the album, horns and pop synths combining for a sound that could only work for Shania Twain. Shania sees that there’s something wrong with her man (possibly due to something that occurred between them earlier), and she’s decided to be proactive. She wants them to work through their problems, so they can make up. It’s a cute song in which she declares she’s “gonna stay here till [he] has a smile on [his] face.” It’s probably one of the softest and fluffiest she’s ever released.
- Where Do You Think You’re Going: This ballad finds Shania singing from a slightly different perspective on her ex, simultaneously wishing him well and begging him to stay. It really gives off that lost sort of feeling after being blindsided like she was. It’s simultaneously mature and tragic. In that way, it may just be the most haunting on the album.
- Roll Me on the River: This dark, sexy track is about intimacy, but not necessarily the kind your thinking of. The song speaks more of playfulness and getting to know each other than sex. However, with lines like “Roll me on the river/Lay me in the sun,” you can tell that’s not totally off the table. It’s just not the priority. It’s a simmering siren call, and another one of my favorites.
- We Got Something They Don’t: This track is the upbeat version of “You’re Still the One.” While not as timeless as that Shania Twain staple, it’s still cute and heartfelt. Even when others doubted they’d last, Shania and her new husband proved them wrong. They’ve found home with each other, and this song really makes you root for them. It’s another favorite.
- Because of You: This ballad is both a sweet love song and self-celebration. Shania acknowledges conflicting flaws, being “independent to a fault” and losing herself in a relationship. In her current marriage, she’s found she can be herself while also leaning on her husband when she needs to. On the bridge, she spells out the main lesson she’s learned. She “[doesn’t] need [him] like a child needs a home,” but she “[is] who [she is] because [he’s] a part of [her] now.” She could live without him, but he’s helped her embrace her true self. While not a favorite, it is a song I keep coming back to.
- You Can’t Buy Love: This bouncy song touches on the beauty of love and making the best out of life. It’s cheesy, yet oddly soulful. The lyrics leave a lot to be desired though. And yet, despite that, it’s so happy I always jam to it when it comes on.
- Life’s About to Get Good: Another track that’s more pop than country, this song takes another look at Shania’s depression after her husband left her. This time, however, she’s choosing to look at the positives. This song really embodies the old adage, “When one door closes, another one opens.” While the man she loved has left, she is now free from the pain living a lie caused. Now she’s going after what she wants and striving to be happy. A smile in her voice, Shania declares, “I’m ready to be loved/And love the way I should.” She knows she deserves better and is proud to show it. Even though I didn’t like it at first, it’s now my most favorite on the album.
- Soldier: This ballad is about being separated from the person you love, but still being with them in spirit. It’s also about missing someone and coming home. It’s almost a lullaby, Shania’s words a comfort. It’s a warm hug of a song, and a great album closer for the standard version of the album.
- All in All: The deluxe album closer, this track is a ballad about change and self-discovery. After her divorce, Shania found a chance to rediscover herself. She reflects on how her changes are paralleled by the world’s. Things change, but the core stays the same. It’s a soothing song, one that shows it’s okay to let go a little and it’s okay to leave things behind. This song, more than any on the record, really shows Shania shedding her past in order to start her best era yet. It’s a fantastic way to close the album.
Eileen “Shania” Twain has proven time and time again that she’s a persevering soul. She’s a phoenix who reaches inside and finds the strength to start anew. Listening to this album makes me feel like a kid again, playing Shania Twain cassette tapes on repeat in the back of my mom’s car. It’s makes me feel grateful for the years of music and memories this woman has given me and my family. And this album proves that those memories are only just beginning. Shania Twain has renewed my faith that we will be watching her thrive for many years to come.