It has been nearly 14 years since Shania Twain last released an album.
The pop-country queen, who stole our hearts with such defining hits as “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “You’re Still the One” and “Love Gets Me Every Time,” is expected to make a full comeback this year. With what would possibly be the biggest album in mainstream country music, Twain has a mighty high bar to reach–and we are 100 percent certain she’ll far exceed our expectations. The singer first launched her career 23 years ago with her self-titled debut album, but it wasn’t until the follow-up, 1995’s The Woman in Me, that she connected with a mass audience…and the rest is history. She might have been out of the limelight for an agonizingly long time, her 2012-14 Las Vegas residency excluded, but country fans have been itching for new tunes for quite awhile.
10 Best Deep Cuts From Shania Twain:
1. “There Goes the Neighborhood” (from 1993’s Shania Twain)
“It’s just another town in Any Town, USA,” Twain reflects on this tender ballad, in which she considers divorce and the loss of love. Before she sought after pop superstardom, her music was traditionally bent and her vocals front and center. The song was originally recorded by Joe Diffie for his 1990 studio album, A Thousand Winding Roads.
2. “Black Eyes, Blue Tears” (from 1997’s Come on Over)
A defiant anthem about a woman breaking free from abuse, the darkly-laced uptempo is a rallying cry for survivors everywhere. “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees,” she preaches over blustering guitar. She finally musters up her inner warrior to reclaim her life. The juxtaposition of such a harrowing narrative and the shimmering production should not go unheeded. “Be forever free to dream,” she speaks in the outro.
3. “I Ain’t Goin’ Down” (from 2002’s Up!)
Framed around a teenage pregnancy, Twain outlines a story of resilience and strength through the lens of youth and coming of age. “I had to drop outta high school, everybody treated me so cruel. But I didn’t give in and giver her away,” she sings. “I’m gonna hold on ’cause what I believe in is so strong. No matter how long. No one can tell me I’m wrong. I ain’t goin’ down.” The message is a universal one, even if the listener can’t exactly relate to this particular circumstance: finding the courage to soldier on in the face on unimaginable events.
4. “Raining on Our Love” (from 1995’s The Woman in Me)
In an unprecedented turn-of-events, Twain’s breakout album resulted in eight singles pushed to radio, which left very little else on which for the listener to chew. AC-leaning ballads are Twain’s sweet spot and this acoustic-framed deep track allows the singer to really take a bite out of some meaty lyrics. The arrangement rings out with a soft buzz of tradition and lap steel unlike most of her later albums–if Twain had never courted Top 40 that would have been A-OK.
5. “Crime of the Century” (from 1993’s Shania Twain)
Twain shows off her honky-tonk side with this toe-tappin’ good time. Brimming with blustering harmonica and a saloon-style swing, the song is her manifesto of the independent woman–who is ultimately wooed by a self-proclaimed Robin Hood. “Ali Baba an’ the Forty Thieves ain’t got nothin’ on you. You came on like Jesse James; you stole my heart like you were robbin’ trains. I’m gonna lock you up for life with me,” she asserts.
6. “Juanita” (from 2002’s Up!)
The slithering Spanish tango sits on top of the music, texturized with Twain’s signature contemporary flourishes. Juanita is a metaphor for a deeply-rooted, nearly primal force embedded in every woman. “If you can find her and free her, Juanita will unchain your heart,” she coos.
7. “Leaving is the Only Way Out” (from 1995’s The Woman in Me)
Another one of Twain’s more subdued moments is heavy on the piano, lonesome wail of steel guitar and one helluva moving melody. There is a Patsy Cline or Patti Page tenderness to the pitter-patter of Twain’s riveting vocal that she rarely has explored in her career–here’s hoping to a return to form this year.
8. “Whatever You Do! Don’t! (from 1997’s Come on Over)
Twain sheepishly (and adorably) lays the blame of her infatuation with a new suitor on him. “If you stand too close to me, I might melt down from the heat,” she blushes. The melody is as rosy as her cheeks. “I’m such a sucker for your eyes,” she later admits. The tension is prominent even in the thickly and thoughtfully constructed music, supported with a rock undercurrent and a provocative nuance.
9. “Ain’t No Particular Way” (from 2002’s Up!)
The sizzle of the strings (violin, guitar, perhaps even mandolin) ebbs and flows over a distinct Top 40-friendly melody. Twain is clearly driving this ship, but not without an assist from stacked instruments which result in a heavy-handed (but satisfying) arrangement. “Love has a way to find ya, sneaks up right behind ya,” she advises. “There ain’t no particular way. You don’t know when it’s gonna come runnin’ ’round the corner…”
10. “Still Under the Weather” (from 1993’s Shania Twain)
A deep cut which could have easily been recorded by Reba McEntire around the same time, this song is soft but powerful. In the aftermath of heartache, Twain picks herself up–even though she “cries sometimes” and finds herself still struck by sorrow–and professes she’s over the storm and only a little under the weather. Twain’s subtle phrasing here is among her best work and tragically underrated; the richness and yearning is chill-inducing.