Shania Twain album: 'Now' celebrates perseverance, moving on

Cindy Watts
The Tennessean

Shania Twain’s new album Now isn’t about divorce. It’s about survival.

“Saying it’s about divorce gives divorce too much credit,” says Twain. “I felt overwhelmed by the lack of expressing the mounting layers of disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, destruction, all of those things that have been happening since the day I was born. The divorce was the last straw.”

Shania Twain's 'Now' will be available Friday.

Twain, a pioneer of today’s pop country, will release her first new studio album in 15 years Friday. Now contains 12 songs — or 16 on the deluxe version — that Twain wrote alone, including its first single, Life’s About to Get Good, and new song Poor Me. She also co-produced the project, which is an introspective walk through some of her darkest moments, including the loss of her voice and her divorce from former husband, famed producer Robert "Mutt" Lange.

“This is about celebrating survival, perseverance, optimism, embracing hope. Don’t ignore where you are if it’s dark, but don’t ignore the light at the end of the tunnel, either,” Twain says of Now. “I think if we don’t face our pain we are stuck with it forever.”

Twain’s hesitant return to the recording studio after suffering from vocal paresis began years ago under the diligent insistence of Lionel Richie. Richie wanted Twain to sing on his country duets album Tuskegee, which was released in 2012.

“She walks in and announces to me 15 minutes before we are now to go in and record the song, she can’t do it,” Richie told The (Nashville) Tennessean at the time “I said to her, ‘Let me see you for a minute quietly, away from (everyone),’ so in case anyone saw me choking her to death we couldn’t exactly verify it,” he said jokingly.

Shania Twain wrote every song on her new album 'Now,' which is her first in 15 years.

The first note Twain sang on their duet, Endless Love, is the first note she tried to sing in seven years. She says it was one of the greatest moments of her life.

Twain, who has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide and is the top-selling female artist in country music history, lost her singing voice years before Lange’s infidelity ended their marriage. From 2002 or 2003 to 2012, Twain says she had no “singing voice I could rely on.”

After recording with Richie, Twain learned her vocal impairment was caused by Lyme disease. Although the disease cost her a decade of her career, she considers herself lucky that it didn’t attack her heart.

Twain felt the stirrings for a new album in 2011. It wasn’t until she completed her two-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2014 and followed up with a North American Tour in 2015 that she felt comfortable in the recording studio.

When it came time to start preparing for the album, Twain’s hands-on approach was necessary because the content was so personal.

“It’s important to have a positive influence on whoever still cares about my music, and it makes it that much more important to write about things or sing about things that relate to real issues,” she says.

Early in her career, Twain redefined the country music sound and influenced a generation of singers. Many of Twain’s hits, including Any Man of MineMan! I Feel Like a Woman and Honey, I’m Home, preached female empowerment punctuated with rock guitar riffs.

MORE: Shania Twain performs on 'America's Got Talent'

“Shania was such an idol to me because she represented strength and she was sexy while still being classy,” says fellow Canadian country singer Lindsay Ell.  “Shania Twain of today isn’t the same woman she was 15 years ago, but I think she’s waded those waters really well.”

Shania Twain was an adviser on ‘The Voice’ in the spring of 2017.

Universal Music Group Nashville president Cindy Mabe calls Twain's music "a staple of pop culture" and says she "remains a global music icon as important and relevant to the current state of music today as anyone."

Now  continues to build on the relationship Twain constructed with women. This time, however, it comes from a different place in her heart.

“I’m feeling more comfortable than ever now in my own skin as a female artist, especially an aging one,” says Twain, 52. “Even if I looked 60 for my age, that’s not what it’s about. The focus for me more than ever is really on … making the most of my life.”

Reach Cindy Watts at 615-664-2227, or on Twitter @CindyNWatts.