The Woman in Me – Shania Twain – 1995
Claimed Sales: 20m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: CD/Apple Music
It’s hard to imagine a time where Shania Twain wasn’t the biggest country artist of all time. Albums that can be considered one of the World’s Greatest Hits don’t come much bigger than 1997’s Come On Over but two year’s prior The Woman in Me marked the debut of Shania Twain potential worldwide star. This is arguably her most solid ‘country album’, 12 tracks that lean on pop, but don’t go all in like she did after this. After hearing Def Leppard’s Hysteria earlier on in the series, it was instantly obvious that Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange was to thank for the sound there, I found myself saying ‘This is basically a Shania song’ throughout. The Woman in Me was his biggest project since then and the partnership with Shania (that eventually became a marriage) is undeniable. (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here! is probably the strongest example of this, Shania’s swaggering attitude through, the thumping hand-claps, the guitar solos, the footsteps at the end followed by a door slamming it’s the blueprint for the songs that would soon send Shania global. These up-tempo numbers are undoubtedly the highlight for most, Any Man of Mine and You Win My Love are pop crossover smashes, with the talky closing section of the former forcing her into the pop consciousness for the very first time. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under is a honky tonk barn-stormer while No One Needs To Know is campfire sing-along and both sit nicely at either end of the album; overall the pacing here is as good as you’d expect from a dream team like this. The ballads may not be as high up my list of favourites but it’s here that Shania the country singer shines through. The rock vocal production allows Twain’s voice to soar on the likes of Is There Life After Love, epic title track The Woman in Me (Needs The Man In You) and acapella closing hymn God Bless The Child. Leaving Is The Only Way Out gets a little bit melodramatic, but this is just a blip on an album full of memorable moments. The Woman in Me may not be as consistently brilliant as Come On Over, but as an album it’s a terrific listen. On now iconic songs like Any Man of Mine Shania gave the country music scene of the mid 90s a much needed kick up the behind into the genre it would soon become. Without The Woman in Me the idea that the world’s biggest selling female album in history could come from the country genre would have been absurd.
Will I listen again?: Definitely
Best Track: For sheer impact on the music industry it would have to be the stomping Any Man Of Mine here, but for me (If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here! might just be the definitive Shania song, exclamation mark and brackets and all.