Ready for the Road
Shania Twain can't wait to tour now she's finished her hot new album
Shania Twain's new album is called Come
on Over, and it's a personal invitation directly into her thoughts.
"It's a very conversational album, even more than The
Woman in Me," Shania tells COUNTRY WEEKLY. "This album reflects exactly the way I think. There's nothing on this album I wouldn't stand by lyrically."
From the upbeat "Love Gets Me Every Time" and "Rock This Country!" to the more serious messages of respect in "If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!" and "Black Eyes, Blue Tears," the beautiful singer/songwriter from Timmins, Ontario, says she's revealing more of herself to the public than ever before.
"A lot of subject matter on this album goes deeper for me personally than I portray in the songs, because obviously I'm trying to entertain people and not get all heavy on them," Shania says. "But all the songs on this album are very real.
"I feel a new sense of freedom. I feel I've made my place, and people accept me for who I am."
Once again written and produced by Shania and her husband, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Come on Over has plenty of music for fans - 16 songs in all.
"We were given the luxury of time," Shania citing the break of 2 1/2 years between albums. "We wrote a lot of material. At the time we narrowed it down to 16 songs, we figured that we'd probably lose a couple extra and whittle it down to 12 or 14. But all the songs made the cut.
"Every song has a different sound, but it's a pretty pumpin' record! It's high energy for the most part, and has got tons of fiddles and lots of beats. It's a long album, one that takes a few turns here and there." It's been a long wait for Shania fans, mainly due to the phenomenal success of The Woman in Me.
Although she didn't tour to support The Woman in Me, Shania did log hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles promoting the album through interviews, autograph sessions and television appearances.
She admits she was exhausted when she finally left the road in April 1996 for the custom-built woodland home she shares with Mutt near Lake Placid in upstate New York. "I was so tired. I was keeping weird hours. There were a lot of 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock in the morning wake-up calls.
"Promoting is more mentally exhausting than touring because it's nonstop communicating all the time. And it's not like you're venting through performance and releasing onstage at night."
She'd definitely earned the right to a vacation, but Shania chose a different route: work. "I was very excited and happy to be off the road, but I was ready to dive right in and write the next album. I didn't actually take any time off."
The Woman in Me was the honeymoon album, written in the throes of passion as Shania and Mutt fell in love and got married during the process. Now almost four years into a happy and successful marriage, Shania says Come on Over reflects a new comfort level in their relationship.
"This was different in that we now know each other so well. There are no inhibitions between us whatsoever, and I think because of that we had a lot more laughs during this album," she says.
"It was very easy to bring the songs together because we were more comfortable. It's amazing how well everything gelled."
Shania describes the partnership between her and Mutt as one of constant creativity.
"We're always writing," she explains. "Sometimes we would literally go two or three days at a time where we'd sit by the fire and start writing in the morning, go for a walk later in the afternoon, go for a horseback ride or eat, then write, go to bed really late, get up in the morning and start all over again."
Shania reveals that she can even be creative in the middle of a screaming crowd. One of the album's best songs - "From This Moment On," her duet with Bryan White - was written at a sports event.
"We were in Italy two years ago, and we were at a soccer game. My husband loves sports. I don't know the game that well, so my mind drifted and I started writing."
She also says she had to be coaxed by Mutt to add the duet to the album. "It was Mutt's idea. I really didn't want it to be on this album. I'm starting to catalogue original songs for others to sing. So I was thinking I was going to bank one of my own songs, and Mutt comes along and says, 'Nope, I really think we need to put this on the album. It's a great song.'
"It got me excited. I thought Bryan White would be ideal for it. He was my first choice."
Some of the songs on Come on Over are autobiographical. "You're Still the One" and "Come on Over" are about Shania's relationship with Mutt.
"'You're Still the One' is so true," says Shania. "Mutt and I were very unlikely to succeed in a lot of people's eyes. We both came from different worlds. Both of our families were shocked. We met, courted and married all within six months. It's so unlike me, and so unlike Mutt. We're two very practical people. We just don't jump into things like that.
"Of course, the tabloids write we're getting
divorced. Nothing could be further from the truth. We're a very happy couple. This song is a reaffirmation of our love and our relationship."
"Come on Over" is a song about escape, something Mutt and Shania often dream about. "We don't necessarily go anywhere, although we often do a lot of daydreaming. But there's no time. Our last vacation was a couple of years ago in Italy. We haven't really had a trip since then. Any other trips we've taken are so we can go away and actually write songs.
"We're going to go to South of France just before Christmas. We like to take little vacations like that. We like to experience new cultures, but for the most part we daydream, take walks and go horseback riding."
Mixed among the album's lighter fare are some serious subjects. "If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!" is a song about the trials of growing up.
"It comes from my teenage years where you're going through an awkward time, and nobody's sure what the boundaries are yet. It comes from an innocent place, not an angry place. When you're a teenage girl and
developing, guys will cross those boundaries and they might grab you or bump up against you.
"Experiencing that myself made me withdraw a bit, and I started to wear layers of clothing and became very inhibited about my body. Now that I'm a woman I don't want to downplay my femininity."
"Black Eyes, Blue Tears" deals with the subject of abuse, and although Shania admits she has some experience with the topic, she remains private.
"Yes, I have experienced or witnessed it," she says. "I don't want to be too specific, because I think if I went into that, it would distract from the message. I'm not writing off the top of my head. I'm writing from a place of understanding. I just don't want to talk about how. The song is not written about me or anybody I know specifically. It's really about triumph over abuse."
Although a few songs on Come on Over are pop and rock flavored, she has no intention of abandoning country.
"I'm not looking to leave country, but I do want to have more international success," says Shania. "The more people who hear your music, the more satisfied you are as an artist. The Woman in Me had its obvious country elements, but it had its obvious rock and pop elements, too. People want something different enough so it's fresh."
The Woman in Me surpassed Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits as the all-time best-selling album by a female country artist and went on to sell an astounding 12 million copies world-wide. Is Shania hoping to exceed those lofty heights with Come on Over?
"You always hope to improve," she responds. "Realistically, I can't make that my goal because it's strange to me. My goal with this album is to make a better album, not necessarily a bigger album. The tour is the new pressure.
"I'm dying to get out," she says of her highly anticipated world tour that begins in May. "I told my manager that after the CMAs, that was it. I don't want to perform sporadically any more. I want to be out on the road.
"The band is almost together. It's a nine-piece band, and I'm still deciding on some of the members at this point. But we'll go into rehearsals in January and we'll finally be getting out in May."
Although she frequently performed during awards shows and late-night talk shows on TV; Shania says that world was alien to her.
"Television is a little uncomfortable for me, because it's not my environment. I find it very cramped and awkward. The only way to make it more comfortable for me is to go on the road. Performing is second nature to me."
Shania, who skipped touring The Woman in Me because she wanted more material for her shows, warns fans not to expect an over-the-top three-ring circus. "A lot of people are expecting dancers to come out, backup singers, and lots of extras," she admits. "It actually won't be that slick. It's going to be much more spontaneous and exciting.
"I won't have a lot of extras, and I won't have a lot of big sets. I want to spend my money on lights and sound, and not on the frills."
Yet Shania says she'll give fans more than live versions of her albums.
"I want to work on the arrangements of some of the songs," she explains. "In rock shows, they often stretch out their songs, and I want to focus more on that. It's going to be a lot of fun - a lot of audience participation. I'll also have three fiddles."
Shania began playing bars in her native Timmins when she was 8. She performed in an evening revue at Ontario's Deerhurst Resort, and toured with Toby Keith after releasing her debut Shania Twain album.
Yet she has drawn some fire in music circles for not hitting the road for The Woman in Me. "I'm aware of the criticism, but I don't feel pressure from it," she says. "The irony of the whole thing is that that's my most comfortable element.
"Although there are people out there with the perception that I'm a studio product, the reality is that the studio, the CD and video are the newest elements to my life. I'm most comfortable onstage."
Shania aims to stop and smell the roses this time around. She was so caught up in the whirlwind success of The Woman in Me that she forgot to enjoy it. "When you're really busy and you've got tons of things going on, you really don't have any time to savor it," she explains. "I found it very difficult to have a good balance in my life. My songs were a lot more fun than the life I was actually leading."
At home, Shania escapes with horseback riding and promises to add some leisure to her tour time. In fact, she's taking her two horses, an Appaloosa and a Tennessee Walker, out on the road with her.
"Touring will be fun. I'll get a chance to take advantage of it more. I'll go to restaurants more often, go riding, meet horse people and
do more activities outside music. I don't want to wait any longer."
by Nick Krewen, Nov 25/97, Country Weekly cover