1995, Music

The Woman In Me (1995) by Shania Twain

All I remember of this record from when I was young is that I thought Shania was hot. (And that I was far from the only one who thought so: the record – and next one – suddenly popped up on a lot of male’s record shelves all of a sudden.) I had no feelings about country at the time, and I probably thought this was what it sounded like. I didn’t care as I knew I didn’t like the music, despite how catchy it was, but I liked looking at her. (Though I don’t remember these videos very well so I’m wondering if my interest in had more to do with Come On Over. That or CMT maybe didn’t exist yet, or we didn’t get it yet.) I do remember a number of these songs pretty well, which is more a testament to how ubiquitous this record was in Canada at the time.

The songs are very catchy, though obviously the hits are catchier than the rest of the album (as is typical for a record like this). There’s at least one song here, which was a hit at the time, which reminds me of one of her later hits. But, yes, the songs are catchy.

The lyrics are the kind of superficial stuff about love and relationships which you associate with country pop, though I don’t know how long country pop had existed at this point, so maybe this wasn’t quite standard yet. (Who cares, right?)

This was quite “pop” for 1995, and part of the wave of country pop that, one could argue, helped ruin the genre or, at least helped move the genre towards mainstream music and away from its distinct existence as a separate genre in American popular music. There are moments when mainstream music really permeates the record. But the surprise is how much more traditional it sounds than Come On Over. It’s only in comparison to that record, of course, but it’s still noticeable. If you don’t compare it to later country pop, it often sounds more like a facsimile of country, made by people who have more interest in making hits. (I’m not blaming Shania, so much as her partner. More on that in a moment.) For instance, the tinkling piano at the end of “Whose Bed” sounds more like somebody’s idea of what barrelhouse piano should sound like, as filtered through, say, ’80s hair metal, than the real thing.

This record is produced to shit. Whatever charisma Shania has, and she has a lot, is undercut by how slick the record sounds and by her producer and husband’s decision to sing “backing” vocals on a lot of the tracks. I use quotes around “backing” because, at times, it’s practically a duet. Nobody bought this album to hear Mutt Lange sing, I can guarantee you. (Except maybe Mutt…) It’s a soulless thing that sounds, at a production level, closer to Def Leppard – gated drums! – than it does to country music, except that there’s a country singer and country instruments playing (mostly) country songs. Mutt Lange is the absolute worst.

Still, it’s more country than its sequel so, for that, I have to give it some kind of credit.

6/10 feels charitable, but there you have it

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