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Mace & Crown | October 23, 2017

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Shania Twain’s ‘Now’ tries to prevail over heartbreak and lost time

Adam Flores | Senior Writer

Courtesy UMG Recordings

After a 15-year hiatus since her fourth record, 2002’s “Up,” country-pop queen Shania Twain is back with her highly anticipated fifth studio album, “Now (Deluxe).” Twain, 52, also took a 12-year sabbatical from the music industry. Throughout her career, however, she’s sold over 100 million records, making her the best-selling female country artist and one of the best-selling music artists overall.

The Canadian country-pop superstar also holds the honor of having the best-selling studio album by a female artist with more than 40 million copies sold worldwide for her third effort, “Come On Over.” It spawned 12 singles and garnered Twain four Grammy Awards.

The new record comes after a turbulent time in Twain’s life. In 2008, she separated from husband and legendary songwriter and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. It was alleged he was having an affair with her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. The power couple went through a messy divorce that was finalized in June 2010. Twain moved on by marrying Nestlé executive Frédéric Thiébaud, the former husband of her former best friend, on New Year’s Day 2011.

The 16-track compilation picks up sonically where “Up” left off with bold, bright and uplifting arrangements underneath Twain’s effortless, diva-esque vocal mastery. The multifaceted singer-songwriter exhibits a deep emotional element throughout “Now.” writing each track and sharing production credits with veteran producers from the rock, pop and EDM genera.

Simply put, Twain returns to her throne from the drama and trauma of a broken heart by recapturing her power-girl persona. She continues to cross the borders of music genres instead of completely sounding like a country product, which is exactly where “Up” saw her last.

“Now,” however, may have some trouble finding the same ubiquitous spaces her previous material inadvertently, yet graciously discovered earlier in her music career. Lead single “Life’s About to Get Good,” with its EDM pulse and arena-sized country motifs, declares her return to the limelight while revisiting her all-too-familiar song production format.

The collection is introduced by the energetic “Any Man of Mine.” Its guitar-charged romp and stomp resorts to laidback reggaeton verse sections and lightly charged chorus shouts as she sings, “I’m swinging, with my eyes closed / Only God knows, how far it goes / Fist up in the air, oh like we don’t care, swinging.”

“Swingin’ with My Eyes Closed,” the collective’s exposition and second single, is Twain’s opening proclamation.

“Because of You” is Twain’s love dedication to her current husband, Thiébaud. With an intimate, acoustic guitar intro followed by other light instrumentation, the track is somewhat weakened by production vocals. The track would benefit by letting her natural voice carry her message instead.

The melancholic yet anthemic resilience of “I’m Alright,” the infectious handclap and bounce step of “You Can’t Buy Love” and the introspective sonic hybridity of “More Fun” define an eclectic musical set reflecting Twain’s past and present condition.

Piano-induced ballad “Soldier” shines as a raw cut; its timbre should have been explored more on the rest of “Now.” “Where Do You Think You’re Going” sets the same scene with light string accents and a powerful vocal performance that steers clear of production vocal nuances that seem to be more of a nuisance on other selections within “Now.”

“Now” is also offered as a streamlined, 12-track set minus “Deluxe” tracks “Let’s Kiss and Make Up,” “Where Do You Think You’re Going,” “Because of You” and “All in All.”

Though “Now” sees Twain as courageous and prevailing in a post-Lange production era, only time will tell whether fans old and new will welcome her new material created with the same sonic formula. Moreover, in this new era of digital music downloading, it remains to be seen if she can retain the same selling power her previous albums have demonstrated.