When Shania Twain took a break from the music industry more than a dozen years ago, she exited as a country-pop queen. Her songs were ubiquitous on both sides of the Atlantic, with Come On Over – her third album of blockbuster ballads and radio anthems, produced with equal parts gloss and grit by hard-rock heavyweight Mutt Lange – standing tall as the world's best-selling record by a female artist. She was unmatched. Unbreakable, even.
This month, a very different Twain returns to the mainstream with Now. Lange, her husband and main collaborator for years, is gone, having jettisoned himself from Twain's life with an affair that ended the couple's marriage in 2010. In his absence, Twain grabs the reins herself, writing every song here and sharing production credit with a handful of vets from the rock, pop and EDM worlds. Dramatic and diverse, it's an album about rebuilding a career and a broken heart, shot through with girl power, showbiz schmaltz and rare vulnerability. With a sound that owes more to Twain's genre-jumping interests than her country roots, Now continues the exploration we last saw with 2002's Up!
Ahead of Now's September 29th release, we preview the deluxe edition of the album, breaking down the track list song-by-song.
1. "Swingin' With My Eyes Closed"
In a nod to Twain's past, Now kicks off with a short, stomping riff cut from the same cloth as "Any Man of Mine." Then the electric guitars fade and the steel drums begin to clatter, pushing "Swingin' With My Eyes Closed" into tropical pop territory.
2. "Home Now"
If "Swingin' With My Eyes Closed" doubles down on Twain's pop chops, then "Home Now" shines a light on her country roots, layering banjo and fiddle into a ringing, monster-sized riff that echoes throughout the entire song.
3. "Light of My Life"
Drums loops and minor-key melodies push this moody love song forward. Delivered by a secret admirer to an unknowing crush, the song is actually a bit creepy, with Twain promising to save herself for a man who doesn't realize she exists. The mood brightens during the chorus, though, where Twain delivers some of her strongest hooks in two decades.
4. "Poor Me"
Broken hearts don't mend easily. Nearly a decade after splitting with her ex-husband and former producer, Mutt Lange, Twain opens up about the divorce that left her desperate and rootless. "I wish he'd never met her," she sings frankly. By the song's chorus, though, she's decided to move on, delivering one of the album's strongest puns – "poor me another!" – along the way.
5. "Who's Gonna Be Your Girl"
Lush and lovely, "Who's Gonna Be Your Girl" opens with tremolo guitar and gauzy strings, before building its way toward a harmony-drenched chorus. The real scene-stealer, though, is the layered, Lange-worthy wall of background vocals, which wouldn't have sounded out of place on Def Leppard's ballad-heavy Adrenalize.
6. "More Fun"
Like a Chicago number updated for mainstream pop radio, "More Fun" mixes the sass and swing of a piano-bar standard with the punch of a club banger. "The time of our lives is here," Twain insists during the second verse, before another ivory-pounding chorus comes barreling into the picture.
7. "I'm Alright"
"No one comes undone the way I do when it comes to you," Twain admits, examining the wreckage left behind by a failed relationship. While acoustic guitars and booming kick-drum swirl in the background, she builds her way toward resilience, hitting her peak during the song's hand-clapped, a cappella breakdown.
8. "Let's Kiss and Make Up"
Like "Swingin' With My Eyes Closed," "Let's Kiss and Make Up" gives an exotic, beachy makeover to Twain's country-pop, with mariachi horns punctuating each chorus and a reggae-worthy groove running beneath the verses.
9. "Where Do You Think You're Going"
Twain delivers a knockout vocal on this piano ballad, which moves from a raw, threadbare intro — during which you can hear the piano bench creaking — into a sweeping, orchestral chorus worthy of a film soundtrack.
10. "Roll Me on the River"
With tribal drums worthy of The Lion King and stacked, supersized background vocals, "Roll Me on the River" is Twain finding the middle ground beneath soul, gospel and global R&B.
11. "We Got Something They Don't"
Nearly 20 years after "You're Still the One," Twain and co-producer Jacquire King revisit the us-against-the-world motif, setting the upbeat "We Got Something They Don't" to a backdrop of brassy horns, thunderous percussion and the album's best bass line. There's even a Michael Jackson-worthy "hoo" during the final 30 seconds – a salute from one Nineties kingpin to another.
12. "Because of You"
Twain lets go of her heartbroken past and sings to her current partner, Frédéric Thiébaud. "Because of you, I'm me," goes the song's straightforward chorus, delivered with help from an acoustic guitar and light drums.
13. "You Can't Buy Love"
Handclaps and a bouncing chord progression underscore this sunny salute to all those who persevere in the face of obstacles. The song later veers into girl-group territory, thanks to multi-tracked harmonies that thicken up Twain's main melody.
14. "Life's About to Get Good"
With its electro-pop pulse and arena-country hooks, Now's lead single builds a bridge between Twain's present and past. It's also her first Top 40 hit in a dozen years. Life's about to get good, indeed.
Another piano-heavy number, "Soldier" finds its narrator singing to an absent trooper who's spent too long away from home. Twain gives it the full power-ballad treatment, lacing the mix with strings and Hollywood drama.
16. "All in All"
Now's closer is another mid-tempo reflection on life's twists and turns, sung by a country vet with knowledge to dispense and melodies to explore. "Things I've always thought were strange aren't that strange at all," she sings simply, while burbling keys and an Eighties-inspired guitar riff back her up.