Released: February 3
Country pop royalty Shania Twain lives up to her legacy with her superb sixth album ‘Queen of Me’; an unapologetic celebration of living life on her own terms.
Arriving six years after her fifth and most recent LP ‘Now’ (2017) – a comeback project 15 years in the making that saw the superstar single-handedly pen each of its 16 tracks – its follow-up features a host of co-writers, from global hitmaking duo Jessica Agombar and David Stewart, to singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti and Twenty One Pilots star Tyler Joseph.
But central to the set is the legendary musician who, over the past decade, has fought to regain her voice and return to the spotlight after a battle with Lyme disease left her unable to perform. With two global tours and a pair of Las Vegas residencies under her belt, she’s on top of the world and – according to Shania – she’s never felt better.
“These days, I’m feeling very comfortable in my own skin – and I think this album reflects that musically,” she beams. “Life is short and I want to be uplifted, colourful, unapologetic and empowered. I want to carry a clear message, particularly as a woman, to always remember my power and I hope the songs are a reminder to you, of that same power inside you!
“I want to celebrate this new chapter with you all on my tour! Vegas has been a dream, but I’m ready to be on the road and sing with you, dance with you and have a kick ass night out with you! This one’s gonna be a big party – no inhibitions, no conditions, let’s get a little out of line!”
Launching with the infectious country romp Giddy Up!, Shania gets the party started like only she knows how, delivering powerful vocals and vowing to ‘put some up in your giddy’. Not only does it bring her sound full circle – the track wouldn’t sound out of place on her classic 1997 record ‘Come on Over’ – it finally reintroduces her penchant for punctuation after a two-decade absence.
While referencing the past on the eighties-inspired Waking Up Dreaming and straight-up country pop Not Just a Girl, ‘Queen of Me’ sees Shania work with producers including Stewart and Mark Ralph to incorporate electronic elements that elevate and modernise her sound.
It’s a declaration she makes on Brand New, looking at everything that’s gone before and insisting: ‘You’ll always be the same old you / But I’m a brand new me.’ The past is a territory she delves into from time to time; Last Day of Summer sees her look back on a lost love, while closer The Hardest Stone is a mid tempo number that reads as a sequel to her 2017 track Poor Me, opening with the contemplative, ‘Curiosity, everybody knows how it goes for a cat / Leaving love alone, I was never very good at that’ and asking: ‘When will I learn / The hardest stone to turn is the heart.’
That’s not to say she’s the victim: ‘Your pants are on fire / You’re such a fucking liar’ she declares on Pretty Liar – the first and so far only track from her decades-spanning repertoire to earn an Parental Advistory warning for explicit lyrics.
Meanwhile, the biggest revelation on the record is Number One; a euphoric, disco-inspired number and a celebration of love like nothing she’s has attempted before. It’s a triumph of a track that’s quintessential Shania with its spoken ‘Get the lights!’ while introducing a sound to be explored on future recordings.
Across 12 tracks, her voice is the strongest it’s been since ‘Up!’ some 20 years prior and regaining the power in her vocal seems to have led to Shania regaining confidence not only in her performance abilities, but her life in general. On the title song, she stands strong and asserts her authority over her life: ‘I’m queen of me / I got a life and so many other amazing things to do / Like getting out and following my dreams / You can’t be king of everything / Because I’m busy being queen of me.’
It’s an uplifting mantra and one that epitomises Shania’s journey from the mid-nineties until now; once dismissed as a vehicle for ex-husband and collaborator Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange’s material, she’s proven over the past six years her ability to push forward and continue to carve a legacy on her own terms, as a top-tier writer and producer.
With ‘Queen of Me’, we welcome a new Shania Twain; refreshed, revitalised, and ready to take on the world!
‘Queen of Me’ is available now.