Shania Twain Is the Woman You Remember Across ‘Queen of Me’ Album [Review]
Shania Twain is living her own kind of ‘90s renaissance, and it’s wildly contagious. Is it country?
Does it matter?
As much as Alan Jackson and George Strait are keeping it country on their most recent releases, Twain is, too. The 12 synth-heavy songs on Queen of Me are authentic to the artist she’s always been, even if they stretch beyond the often too-rigid boundaries of the genre.
You’re hard pressed to find traditional country instruments on an album co-produced by four men with very thin country resumes. When we say Twain is living her own kind of ‘90s renaissance, we mean a ‘90s pop renaissance, but again, we ask …
Does it matter?
Queen of Me is Twain’s sixth studio album and it’s as pop-friendly as The Woman in Me, Come on Over and Up! Those three albums are her legacy, with songs like “Any Man of Mine,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” defining a coming-of-age era for women (and quite honestly, men, too) who were over boozy ballads, steel-soaked sinners and demurring love songs.
When she shouted, “Honey, I’m home and I’ve had a hard day” it reset gender roles, at least for a couple of minutes. In many ways she’s trying to do the same things on this new album.
“Number One” — a sexy bedroom mood — and “Not Just a Girl” emobody female empowerment.
“I pack my suitcases / I’m going places / I’m gonna rule the world,” she sings on the latter. It’s not quite the roar of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” but the sentiment is sincere.
Sonically, this album feasts on contagious hooks and repetition. “Giddy Up!” opens the project and sets a tone you’ll need to groove with if you’re going to enjoy the danceable songs that follow. ���Best Friend” has a Motown rhythm to it. not her best vocal performance on Queen of Me, it shows how effortlessly Twain finds the pockets her band creates.
“Pretty Liar” and “Queen of Me” are two more that hit. “I'm not a girl / I’m not a boy / I’m not a baby / I’m not a toy / I’m a queen,” Twain sings to begin the album’s signature song.
Lyrically, songs from Queen of Me are great pop songs, but thin country songs. Her chosen co-writers are eclectic and experienced, but hard to find on any other country album. As a result, songs like “Pretty Liar” and “Inhale/Exhale Air” limp along with overused refrains as a crutch.
One sterling exception is “Last Day of Summer,” an acoustic lover’s regret that marks something new for Twain. We feel like we learn something new about the icon during this mid-tempo memory. The sting feels fresh. Her approach to a sound she helped popularize does, too.