tue 05/03/2024

Album: Shania Twain - Queen of Me | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Shania Twain - Queen of Me

Album: Shania Twain - Queen of Me

Music to frighten the horses

Never the Twain

Shania Twain describes her sixth studio album as “a song of gratitude and appreciation. I was inspired that I still had air in my lungs” – and it certainly is a hi-energy affair, a long way from The Woman in Me, the sophomore outing that established her as “the queen of country-pop”. Twain’s come a long way from the mining and lumbering towns of her Ontario childhood – literally and metaphorically, for home is now on Lake Geneva.

It's surprising to pause and consider that she’s made so big an impact with so few albums over almost 30 years, though of course Twain has also been busy with television, films, and Las Vegas residencies. And there were two health scares: Lyme’s Disease two decades ago left her unable to sing for a time and then Covid, which threatened more than her voice. Plasma therapy enabled her to turn the corner and set her on the road to slow recovery, hence that comment about gratitude and air in the lungs. “Inhale/Exhale/AIR” says it all.

And the lungs are certainly given a good work-out on Queen of Me, a title of affirmation if ever there was one. The woman who cites Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as being among her influences is now a long way from Nashville. Country music is a big tent. Even so, Twain has already been accused of diluting the genre with over-produced dance-pop anthems and too-sexy videos and it’s hard to imagine Music City welcoming songs such as “Pretty Liar” (“Your pants are on fire/ You’re such a fuckin’ liar’”), presumably about the ex-husband she swapped with her best friend. (There’s a fair bit of revenge on the album.)

But it’s banal, retro stuff; samey and derivative – you feel you’ve heard it all before, even on first play. (There have been three singles.) And after repeated plays, nothing grows on you, merely insinuates itself into a bit of your brain. Twain has said the album is “a clear message” to the sisterhood, but there’s no message here, certainly nothing meaningful. I hear no awe-inspiring musicianship, no honed and original songwriting – Queen of Me is exactly what you expect to hear coming through the speakers in the bars and drugstores featured in the video that accompanies the “Giddy Up".

A Vegas motel is where Twain belongs. The Opry would surely be rent in two.

It’s banal, retro stuff; samey and derivative – you feel you’ve heard it all before, even on first play

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