Come On Over
Mercury Records, 1997
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/26/1999
I'm still somewhat amazed neither Shania Twain nor Garth Brooks took the Grammy for Best Country Album. (Taking nothing away from the Dixie Chicks, but this category had recently been dominated by the previous two. Add to that the massive amount of following and publicity - goes to show you that sometimes the Grammy people don't look at Billboard and pick winners from the charts). In any case, you can make a pretty good case that this album is as much a POP album as it is a country album. I'll explain some of that.
If this album owes anything to anyone, it owes a lot of itself to its producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange. That's right, the guy behind such big rock albums as AC/DC's Back In Black and Def Leppard's Hysteria took the throne behind a country album. Actually, this was the second time "Mutt" produced an album for Shania - he was behind the smash The Woman In Me. (While he was at it, he also married the girl. Not bad).
Why do I say that this album owes a lot to "Mutt"? Well, not only does he produce the album, he co-wrote all of the songs with Ms. Twain. This gave the album a very pop-oriented feel. From the opening track, "Man! I Feel Like A Woman" to "If You Want To Touch Her Ask!" and "I'm Holding On To Love (To Save My Life)" the songs are easily accessible and likeable. In fact, they're very accessible three minute tracks.
Also, while the album features a lot of "country qualities" - violins, twangy guitars - they are not used in the classic tradition. All of the instruments and back-up vocalists do one thing: Back up Twain. It is her show and she struts in like the owner of the joint. She claps, woos, and leads the band in a fashion very similar to a ringmaster. And Lange's production helps Shania come out as the center of attention.
Meanwhile, the album does have some very nice ballads. "From This Moment On" is quite good--both the album version (with Bryan White) and the single version--and this reviewer actually prefers it to the other big ballad, "You're Still The One." It was that song that broke this album through and through the roof. However, like some people, I do have a problem hearing this song and thinking he was singing about the guy she had recently divorced. In the meantime, "Black Eyes, Blue Tears" is very honest and thoughtful.
The biggest problem I have with the album is that the over-abundance of songs. From some artists, I don't mind that. (No, I actually do.) There are two simple mistakes artists can make on an album--not putting enough songs or putting too much. At 16 tracks, this album gets loaded down. Stuff like "You've Got A Way" and the title track don't help the album, but slow it down. Had I been Lange, I would have selected the top 11-12 songs and released the rest as B-sides. But that's just me.
Overall, the album is a very good pop album. While those extra songs do lower its momentum, the album combines country and rock and pop. (By the way, the Australian version features a different arrangement and cover shot of Twain). It's going to be interesting to see what Twain does to top this album - especially without Lange's help.