October 11, 2011
1996 | #28
In the years after the release of Shania’s runaway success of an album The Woman In Me, she largely focused her creative efforts on relentlessly positive upbeat pop-country material, rarely delivering sorrowful country ballads.
But in listening to the ballads included on The Woman In Me, it’s easy to wish that Shania had offered a few more such efforts in following years. Country heartbreak was not a style that she did often, but it was definitely something that she could do well.
“Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore),” which served as the album’s opening track, heard right before the boot-stomping chords of “Any Man of Mine” took over, is doubtlessly one of the most beautiful lyrics Shania has written. The song presents a female narrator looking back fondly on the feelings of passion and blissful happiness that she experienced in the early stages her marital relationship, as well as the warmth and comfort of companionship.
But then she finds herself mourning over the deteriorating state of her marriage, lamenting “He may still come home, but I live here alone. The love that built these walls is gone.” The only hint of a happy ending comes with the narrator looking hopefully toward the future, thinking “If we could only find that feeling once again… If we could only change the way the story ends.”
The narrator is disappointed, heartbroken, desperate, and yearning, and it all comes through in Shania’s vocal delivery. “Home” is a fine example of a major trait that made Shania Twain such an outstanding vocalist. She was rarely one to shoot for McBride-esque power notes, yet she possessed an outstanding ability to inject deep shades of emotion into the most understated performances. Shania begins the song in a soft, aching delivery, but her tone soon rises to a desperate plea in a true emotional knockout of a performance.
“Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is” was the first single from The Woman In Me to miss the U.S. Top 20 (though it reached #7 in Twain’s native Canada), and it’s a shame that the song is not better remembered. It would be an understatement to say that it is a hidden gem worth seeking out in Twain’s unique and distinctive catalog.
Don’t let Shania’s pop sensibilities fool you. This here is classic country music.
Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange