Album Review: Shania Twain, Now

Shania Twain
Now

This is going to be a short review, simply because what Now gets right and what Now gets wrong is glaringly obvious.

What it gets right: the songwriting. Shania Twain’s ability as a writer has always been underrated, primarily because she chose to write escapist music. The economy of her lyrics has always been top notch, and it’s overlooked just how difficult that is to do. She’s able to capture simple truths and make them rhyme.

Now that she’s baring her soul, that same talent results in painfully honest lyrics that still adhere to the simplicity that she’s known for. Her hurt is palpable on songs like “Poor Me” and “Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl.” Her signature optimism is still there, too, but it’s with a weariness that a positive attitude isn’t always enough.  “Life’s About to Get Good” and “Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed” have bright sentiments, but are clearly being expressed by someone who just spent a long time in the darkness.

I do believe everyone would be talking about her brilliant and intimate new album as an artistic achievement if not for what Now gets so terribly wrong.  All of the vulnerability and accessibility established by her writing is undermined by horrifically awful production and layers of vocal processing. Shania wrote words that needed to be Red Headed Stranger but was put through The Incredible Machine instead. This would’ve been a phenomenal country album, especially if she’d reunited with Alison Krauss to put it together. Hell, it could’ve been a great pop album if it took its cues from ABBA or Adele. Instead, we have industrial noise throughout until the very last track.

“Soldier” closes out the album, and it’s just Shania and a piano for a good chunk of it. Was there nobody in the studio who noticed how much better that sounded? The approach that would’ve made this set shine was right in front of them.

Shania Twain can really sing and she’s even better as a writer. It’s a sin that her talents have been hidden away on her own record. The songs on Now rank among her finest compositions. They’re complex, revealing, and often poignant. They deserved far better treatment than this muddled mess they’ve been given.

Recommended Tracks: “Poor Me,” “Soldier,” “Life’s About to Get Good”

5 Comments

  1. I can completely understand where everyone is coming from their reviews of the album. I personally felt that Now was a decent album. Granted, I didn’t have any high expectations because let’s be honest, Shania will never top The Woman In Me, Come On Over or Up! I feel Shania somewhat succeeded on her comeback. Now prove Shania’s songwriting was still solid as ever and it was the reason of her past mainstream success, not just her good looks or her ex-husband’s production. The positives: Life’s About To Get Good is still a enjoyable track even with the beat feeling a little clunky. (I love the bridge so much). Poor Me and Soldier plays with double entendre to perfection. Soldier was my favorite song off Now. It’s a beautiful ballad that parallels Shania’s comeback to the life of a soldier fighting in war and wanting to come home. Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl hits hard on Shania’s divorce. That chorus is awesome. Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed is classic Shania with straight forward lyrics and catchy hook. The negative: The only bad about Now is the mixing of the production with Shania’s voice. Shania’s voice was decent, but the production on Now took away Shania’s great writing on the album. If the mixing was a lot better, then Now would of been well received by others. I like Now for Shania’s writing, but I don’t love it for the mixing.

  2. “She’s able to capture simple truths and make them rhyme.”
    Eh. I find the rhyming part of her writing to be way too forced. A prime example is in “Life’s About To Get Good” where she rhymes “sad bird” with “flattered.” That’s terrible.

  3. There are about ten strong tracks on the album that are awesome from “We Got Something They Don’t”, to “Let’s Kiss and Make Up”, and “I’m Alive.” There’s always going to be a critic who wished she’d done this or that with the album, but it’s her album and she made it the way she wanted to. It was a personal effort she had to do for herself, even if the public wished she would’ve done a reprise of those great records she did in the 90’s. Maybe that’s to come and this one is getting her feet wet again. She does one hell of a job regardless. The problem is some people built up her comeback too much expecting a “Come On Over” reprise. If you build anything up, you’re bound to be let down. NOW is a good album on its own.

  4. Shania Twain’s Now just went # 1 in Canada, the UK, the USA and Australia! I agree that the producers weren’t her best strengths behind the album but have you listened to ‘Where do you think you’re going”? … It’s brilliant!…. it’s also obvious that millions disagree with your review. What albums have you produced? I love critics that live a life of putting others under a microscope when they live a life of mediocrity. You have a lot more to be worried about right now in the USA than your thoughts on a global Superstar that just proved your review is without merit.

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