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Shania Twain Is Still Reigning “Queen” of Country-Pop: Review

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.

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