Shania Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards on August 28, 1965 in Windsor, Ontario. She grew up in Timmins, Ontario and began singing in bars when she was eight to help her family pay their bills. When she was thirteen she played on ‘The Tommy Hunter Show’. In 1987 her mother and stepdad died in a car accident. She became responsible for her younger siblings and played shows at the Deerhurst Resort in the Huntsville, Ontario area. Shania’s self-titled debut album came out in 1993. The songs ‘What Made You Say That’ and ‘Dance with the one who Brought You’ were minor hits in the U.S. Twain married rock producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange on December 28, 1993. He produced Shania’s follow-up album, THE WOMAN IN ME (1995, Mercury). It won a Grammy for ‘Best Country Album’ and Twain was named ‘Best New Female Vocalist’ at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where she also won ‘Album of the Year’.
First up is ‘Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)’. It’s one of ten co-writes by Twain and Lange. It’s a sad country ballad about heartache: “He knew how to reach me deep inside/And he found a part of me I could not hide/And we’d walk and talk and touch tenderly/Then he’d lay me down and make love to me/We built a love so strong it couldn’t break/There was not a road we were afraid to take.../But he don’t feel the same/Since our lives became years of bills, babies and chains”. ‘Any Man of Mine’ was one of four #1 singles from the album. Dann Huff provides electric solo, wa-wa guitar, lead lix, and claps, while Rob Hajacos plays fiddle on this upbeat country song from the perspective of a woman who definitely knows what she wants: “Any man of mine better walk the line/Better show me a teasin’, squeezin’, pleasin’ kinda time/I need a man who knows how the story goes/He’s gotta be a heartbeatin’, fine treatin’/Breathtakin’, earhquakin’ kind/Any man of mine”.
‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?’ was the album’s first single. It hit #11 on the Billboard Country Chart. It’s a highly danceable song addressed to an unfaithful guy: “I heard you’ve been sneakin’ around with Jill/And what about that weekend with Beverly Hill?/And I’ve seen you walkin’ with long legs Louise/And you weren’t just talkin’ last night with Denise.../So next time you’re lonely/Don’t call on me/Try the operator/Maybe she’ll be free”. ‘(If You’re not in it for Love) I’m Outta Here!’ is a real toe-tapper that finds Terry McMillan on harmonica and cowbell. These words make it clear Shania wants more than a fling: “He says come be a star in the back seat of my car/Oh, but baby slow down/You’re goin’ way too far/Let me make it clear to you my dear/If you’re not in it for love/If you’re not willin’ to give it all you got/If you’re not in it for life/If you’re not in it for love/Let me make it clear to you my dear/If you’re not in it for love/I’m outta here!”
The title track, ‘The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You)’ follows. It’s a lovely country ballad that makes use of the Nashville String Machine. It is a confessional song: “I can’t always be the rock that you see/When the nights get too long and I just can’t go on/The woman in me/Needs you to be the man in my arms to hold tenderly/Cause I’m a woman in love/And it’s you I run to/Yeah, the woman in me needs the man in you”. ‘Is There Life After Love?’ includes this chorus: “Is there life after love?/Some things aren’t certain/But some things I’m sure of/Like angels in heaven and God up above/But is there life after love?”
‘If it Don’t Take Two’ is a fun country shuffle on which Paul Franklin plays the pedal steel and Mutt sings vocal harmonies. It’s all about partnership: “It takes two hearts with one beat/And it takes two to say I do/But the champagne won’t taste sweet/And the dream just won’t come true/If it don’t take two/Noah knew what he had to do, oh yeah/He sent us out in the world walkin’ two by two, me and you”. Mutt Lange wrote ‘You Win My Love’, a song of celebration: “You win my love, you win my soul/You win my heart, yeah, you get it all/You win my love/You make my motor run/You win my love, yeah, you’re number one”.
‘Raining on our Love’ is a sorrowful country and western ballad: “With my head so far above the clouds I didn’t see that it was raining on our love.../I was taking all the love you had to give/But I was too lost in life to know/That without my love in return you could not live/Now she gives the love I did not show”. Shania is the sole writer of ‘Leaving is the Only Way Out’, a song about a relationship coming to an end: “When late nights and long lies came knockin’/You just invited them in/And our voices got too loud for talkin’/Then my heart hit the floor/But your feet just kept walkin’”.
‘No One Needs to Know’ hit #1. John Barlow Jarvis plays the Wurlitzer on this playful country number: “I met a tall, dark, and handsome man/And I’ve been busy makin’ big plans/But no one needs to know right now.../I’ll tell him someday, some way, somehow/But I’m gonna keep it a secret for now/I want bells to ring, a choir to sing/The white dress, the guests, the cake, the car, the whole darn thing/But no one needs to know right now”. Last up is the short and spiritual acappella song ‘God Bless the Child’. Witness these words: “Hallelujah (2X)/Let us all love one another/Hallelujah (2X)/Make all our hearts blind to color/Hallelujah (2X)/God bless the child who suffers”.
The Nashville establishment didn’t know what hit them when Shania Twain’s modern country sounds blasted onto the airwaves. It wasn’t until 2006 when Taylor Swift released her self-titled debut album that Nashville would be so stunned again. THE WOMAN IN ME contains six fast songs and six ballads, making for a nice mix. Several of the songs describe what Shania is looking for in a man. She desires true love, faithfulness, a tender touch, and to be treated like a lady. Many other songs deal with being cheated on, heartache, heartbreak, and loneliness. The photos of Shania included with the CD are sexy and beautiful. I’m rating THE WOMAN IN ME 97%. For more info visit: www.shaniatwain.com.