Shania Twain

Shania Twain

Mercury, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As I’m writing this, Canadian pop-country songstress Shania Twain has just released her latest album—her first in six years, and only her second studio effort in 21 years. Instead of delving into that disc, since all I’ve ever really known about Twain is what has gotten played to death on adult-contemporary radio, I decided to go back to 1993 and her self-titled debut effort, to try and discover just what all of the fuss has been about.

It turns out that there’s a reason Twain tries to act like this album doesn’t exist. A mercifully short collection of watered-down pop country, it does precious little to suggest that Twain was poised to become a superstar in a few short years.

The first impression that one gets from these 10 songs is that this is a half-baked album. Instead of a collection of well-written songs that allow for the vocals to shine and the instrumentation to carry the listener into realms unknown, we’re left with slabs of pseudo-country dough that not only needed more ingredients, but a lot more time in the development oven. With many songs falling short of the three-minute mark, and only one longer than four minutes, it almost feels like Twain was thrown scraps of music to work with, and allowed to fail.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And that’s the thing: as much as I admit I’m not an aficionado of pop country music, there are moments on Shania Twain that make you think that there is some hope to this album. “Still Under The Weather” is one prime example, with Twain’s vocals perfectly overlaid on a gentle ballad. In that vein, albeit not quite as strong, is “There Goes The Neighborhood.”

Had Twain been given more songs in this vein, the disc would have been far stronger. Instead, tracks like “What Made You Say That,” “Dance With The One That Brought You” and “Forget Me” all smack of what could have been. If there had been more musical and lyrical development put into these efforts, then people might have seen Twain as a superstar, instead of having to wait until her sophomore release The Woman In Me.

Twain disdains this album because she had very little input in the songwriting… and, honestly, she has a point, though the one track she does have a co-writing credit on, “God Ain’t Gonna Getcha For That,” is hardly one to write home about. I understand that no music conglomerate is necessarily going to take a chance on a relatively unknown chanteuse and let them write the bulk of their music. But the approach that the label took this time around sure as hell didn’t work.

It’s far too easy to listen to any of Twain’s work and hold it up to the overplayed radio hits such as “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and “You’re Still The One.” Honestly, if you do that, you’re probably going to be disappointed by anything that follows. But even approaching Shania Twain with a completely blank slate, it’s hard to see the album as anything other than a stumbling first step. Fortunately for Twain, a creative partnership with Robert John “Mutt” Lange awaited her just one album later… but that’s another story for another review.

Rating: D+

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