Shania Twain — “Today Is Your Day”
The now-iconic 1995 cover image on Shania Twain’s The Woman in Me marked a turning point for both modern female singers and fans in country music. The tousled, sun-kissed close-up belied the strength and sass of the fresh collection of songs, which went on to spawn seven top 40 hits on the country charts and pave the way for cross-genre girl-power acts to come.
There’s a reason follow-up <em>Come on Over</em> went on to sell more than 20 million copies in the United States, topping any other solo effort by a solo female artist: Twain’s lyrics were at once catchy and substantive, simultaneously flashy and honest. She was memorable, in sound, looks and attitude. But it wasn’t just the bawdy declarations of “Man! I feel like a woman!” and ”Any man of mine/Better walk the line” that connected with fans; she also had a knack for spare, acoustic tunes—cue the easy guitar strums behind opening lyrics ”I’m not dreaming or stupid…”—that weakened detractors’ claims that Twain’s pop sensibilities overshadowed her contributions to country music.
On her first single in six years, however, none of that sonic stickiness remains intact. Nothing about “Today is Your Day” grabs its listener and demands a second play, except to confirm this is, in fact, not an inspirational Colbie Caillat tune pulled from the Miley Cyrus Gone Country Song Catalog, left on Danny Gokey’s cutting room floor for being too boringly positive.
Contrast this to the current jam-packed lyrical doozies penned by one of the aforementioned Twain byproducts Taylor Swift, who often credits the pop-country female predecessor as inspiration for her own ascension into superstar status, that populate modern country airwaves, and the tune sags a little more. It’s hard to say absolutely so little in more than three minutes’ time, but Twain does just that amidst dated echoes and semi-searing guitar riffs that attempt to lend edge.
Those production choices are the main culprits here, overshadowing the traces of vulnerability and been-there, done-that experience Twain brings to the song’s lyrics. Instead of being an interesting counterpoint to the uplifting message of the song’s words, the slow musical progression never manages to hit its stride.
As Twain ventures out onto her own musically for her fifth studio album (sans ex-husband, songwriter and producer Mutt Lange) and into the bright lights of Las Vegas for her show at Caesars Palace, “Today is Your Day” will hopefully be just a stutter step into her second act.
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