Shania Twain is back, but not like we know her.

Now, her first release since 2002's Up!, is a little more pared-back than previous releases both in terms of attitude and sound.

Twain's ongoing struggle with dysphonia as a result of Lyme disease is a well-known one; her vocal chords were damaged to the point where she thought she'd never sing again, but after months of voice therapy, she's managed to bang out an entire album.

Her higher register seems to have disappeared, she doesn't seem to be able to belt as powerfully as she used to, some of the control has gone and there's a gravelly quality to her voice, which used to be clear and controlled, but it's still distinctly her.


Also, now she's written and produced every song on the album without the influence of her ex-husband/producer/co-writer Robert "Mutt" Lange, a bit of that pop kick has gone out of the sound.

And on top of all that, Twain's lost a bit of the playful, sassy fire that led to hits like Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under and That Don't Impress Me Much, instead going down the much darker path of singing about Mutt's betrayal, her heartbreak, and the road to recovery.

But despite it all, it is damn good to have Shania Twain's voice back in my headphones.

Now starts off with stories of triumph and joy, being "one of those lucky ones, who prays for rain and down it comes", and not feeling sorry for herself.

But that doesn't mean she's let go of it all; her husband left her for her best friend, how could she? I'm Alright sees the singer bear her heartache for all to see, she claims ownership of it and talks about how she's getting over it.

Roll Me On the River is a soulful, dark song in which Twain embraces her lower register and grittier voice, You Can't Buy Love is an upbeat Twain version of Beyonce's Lemonade; a song about looking on the bright side rather than taking revenge with warm, fluffy lines like, "you can't make sunshine, but you can make love".

That said, a lot of the songs aren't all that strong, it often comes off as a bit cheesy, and Twain is clearly still struggling with her voice and what to say with it now that she's back. Now is a statement of where she's at and where she's going, and while it may not be a super strong comeback, it's the first step back.

Shania Twain, Now

Artist: Shania Twain
Album: Now
Label: Universal
Verdict: Not a strong album but a step in the right direction.