CD Review Published in Sen magazine Los Angeles 7/95

Shania Twain The Woman in Me (Mercury Nashville)

In marked contrast to so much play-it-safe country music that is produced in Nashville and marketed onto the rest of the world, comes this successful release by Canadian Shania Twain. Here is an album that takes risks on every turn, rocks that cowboy hat and kicks up with a country twang, lays back and swells with the strings only to get back up again. Produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who is usually associated with top selling rock artists like Def Leppard, The Woman in Me draws on Mutt's considerable talents of combining innovative sounds and recording processes with commercial pop rhythms and generous country hooks. You can hear Def Leppard/ Carpenters/ Enya vocal overlays alongside a George Jones fiddle and over a Steve Earle rhythm section, and while it looks outlandish on paper, it sounds nothing short of fantastic.

The album opens with Home Ain't Where His Heart Is (Anymore), a sorrowful and subtle yet arresting lament of a marriage that has ended. Immediately following is an almost celtic sing-a-long stomper Any Man of Mine, which explains "This is what a woman wants..." with a good dose of facetiousness (and a strong rhythm). (If You're Not In It for Love) I'm Outta Here opens with a scream of anguish as the teller recounts all the bad pickup lines and other problems associated with meeting new paramours. Raining On Our Love is a soaring, heartfelt ballad that either Tammy Wynette or Reba McEntire could feel equally at home with. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? is a rocking country chugger that the Judds might have recorded (but didn't) as the singer questions her flame's fidelity. No One Needs to Know is another Judds-styled, gospel tinged, acoustic guitar rhythmed country/pop nugget. Other standouts include the percolating If It Don't Take Two with it's shimmering, irresistable chorus reminiscent of Tanya Tucker at her best and You Win My Love, a playful declaration of affection; "I'm looking for a lover/who can rev his engine up/he can have a '55 Chevy/ or a fancy little pick-up truck/ if he's got a cool Cadillac/ with a Jacuzzi in the back I'm in/ 'cause I'm a classy little chassis/ who's hunting for a heart to win."

All songs here were written by Twain and Lange and you certainly don't get that "pulled from a barrel of Nashville potential hits / anyone could (please) record this and it would be a hit / we shopped this to Wynonna but she passed" feeling. Each is strong enough to stand on its own and unique enough to differentiate between, yet the album definitely stands as a cohesive unit. These songs of love (as most songs are) with their irresistable melodies, innovative production and rhythms, enticing key changes and sparkling, evocative lyrics are guaranteed to stick with you.

Rod Reynolds

© The Art Dept Los Angeles, July 1995

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