Shania Twain is nothing short of a force. Thanks in part to her 1997 blockbuster Come on Over, the 52-year-old Canadian sweetheart remains the highest-selling female country artist in history. And despite charting an insanely rocky course since her last release fifteen years ago — a high-profile divorce that was all over the tabloids and a battle with Lyme disease that led to a debilitating vocal-cord disorder, which she's overcome through years of therapy — the queen has still managed to come out on top.
Her newest album, aptly titled Now, is a true departure from her "Let's go girls" days. Gone (but not entirely forgotten) is Come on Over's cheeky flirtation with '90s girl-power feminism — the smirks, the loud patterns, the brazen declarations of independence set against a fun, pop-driven backdrop — and in its place is a sense of mature introspection. The album is a deeper look at the artist not as an icon but as an honest-to-goodness human. With each song, whether they're gritty guitar jams, upbeat country numbers, measured self-reflections, or, oftentimes, a mix of all three, Now pensively chronicles hardship, growth, triumph, and the kind of bootstrapping endurance seen only in the far reaches of northeastern Ontario.
From her current home in the sunny Bahamas, Twain filled me in on getting through some of her hardest years, staying positive, and avoiding karaoke at all costs.
Meredith Heil: Spending time with this new album, what strikes me the most is that it's such a journey — all these ups and downs and twists and turns. Tell me about that experience.
Shania Twain: This album really was a journey through a transition that took longer than I expected. At the beginning, there's a lot of pain. Then I start reflecting, spinning in circles, and then optimism — survival, really — kicks in, and we're celebrating the light at the end of the tunnel. Every song on the album reflects at least one of those three parts: self-discovery, self-healing, and recovery. I'm not sure I'll ever write an album like this again. It was a very unique period in my life.
Even in the lowest moments, all of these emotions were there. Some of the songs have more of a melancholy lyric, but then the music's all trippy. "Life's About to Get Good" is the perfect example. The verses couldn't be darker, but there's also this contrast. When I was in that place, I was grasping on to any glimmer of optimism, clinging to that. And when I got to the other side, I was still reflecting on the shitty moments. It's almost as if they couldn't live without each other.
MH: What does self-care look like for you?
ST: Time. I'm very protective of "me time." I like my isolation. To me, songwriting is one of those very indulgent times where I've got the perfect excuse to be alone because that's the way I focus best creatively.
Cooking is another. I love making cake, bread, soup, casseroles, all the comfort foods. When I'm bored or inspired — either one — I go to the kitchen, see what's in the fridge, and just start creating.
MH: Was there one track that was really tough to write? One that just kind of fell onto the page?
ST: "More Fun" was a song I wrote in one afternoon. I had the flu and was feeling sorry for myself because it was so beautiful out and there was a great baseball game in town, and I'm like, I would do anything to get out there and go to that game and just enjoy this day. And then I thought, I don't have time to be sick. I need more fun in my life because when I'm not sick, I'm working, and so when I'm not working, I want to be doing something that's just play. That song was about recognizing that we need to have as much fun as we can in our lives, and it was born really, really quickly.