Review Summary: Time Ain't Waitin' Forever
Former pop-country crossover superstar Shania Twain unfortunately returns to us half-baked, half-hearted and full of cliches. With her 2017 record “Now”, Twain found a decent balance between club beats with country and created a semi-valid attempt at a comeback, scoring a number one record with a few memorable singles. With this latest outing, Twain has seemingly abandoned any notion of including her country roots in the compositions of this LP with the exception of a few lazy acoustic guitar/mandolin interpolations and some hackneyed yee-haw lyrical tropes. Plain and simple, this record grasps onto its glittery production, slick bass-oriented rhythms and formulaic song structures in hopes of appealing to the largest mass audience.
I would be remiss to ignore the effort that went into making sure this record sounded polished, crisp and punchy. The bass melodies cut through the mix sharply, the acoustic guitars are sparkly clear, the vocals are front and center with the instrumentals still being distinguishable. Modern production does wonders for covering up lazy songwriting and lackluster vocal performances, as is the issue with “Queen of Me.” Twain’s vocals barely sound like her own with a dense sheen of production hazing over every note and delivery, not to mention the effects that really do her timbre injustice. In songs like ‘Giddy Up!’ and ‘Best Friend’ where Twain searches for her high notes, the sound of her vocals is unlistenable and feel so forced and strained. Twain, not really known for her range as a vocalist even in her heyday, is slighted with these songs which are practically begging for a different singer with a more dynamic range to sing them. Twain feels out of place, many of the songs feeling like abandoned cuts from the latest Ava Max and Elle King records.
If Twain’s vocals weren’t disappointing enough, the words that soundtrack these tunes are just horrendous, laced with unbearably annoying repetition and cliches. The track ‘Best Friend’ opens with:
“When you forget where you belong,
I put on your favorite song to remind you:
You're my best friend, that's who you are.”
This essentially diminishes an individual’s identity to just being Shania Twain’s best friend. The song continues with generic lyrical tropes of not being alone and sharing in adventures with her bestie and having each other’s backs. The cake is completely taken by the song ‘Pretty Liar’ which features the phrase “Your pants are on fire” as the main chorus lyric to rhyme with the naughty swear word hook of “You’re such a ***ing liar.” I’m sure this will come as a shock for many longtime Shania Twain fans who have only experienced her as a cutesy crossover country singer but now, we have the grown up, fowl mouthed pop icon who has taken the reigns over her career.
Just to keep complaining about the laziness of the lyrics on this record, the “La la la” chants on the opening song ‘Giddy Up!’ are absolutely grating and so forced into the bridge because the song literally has nowhere else it could possibly go. It’s annoying, monotonous pop schtick with hardly an ounce of self-respect. This whole record is laced with repetitious phrases that are uninteresting and lack a respectable melody or earworm; it’s all surface level, outdated, overdone hooks that Twain can barely hold onto with her subpar performances.
Even when this record attempts to make an effort like in the title track ‘Queen of Me’ which is essentially a female empowerment anthem where the protagonist woman doesn’t need a man to tell her how to live her life or how she should act. It might be a bit overdone at this point, but rugged individualism, self-respect and confidence are great messages to be singing about. However, this song just takes this message to the surface like so many other songs on this record do, using tired expressions, boring metaphors and directives to try and to push these morals and attitudes. It someone devolves this self-explanatory topic into just a frustrating and irritating mess of lyric tropes and tired melodies. I feel like I keep repeating myself and, in my defense, I’m simply echoing that fact that these main issues are present on effectively every track on this album.
I have nary a positive thing to say regarding the songs, performances or messages of these tracks. It’s heartbreaking to see a momentously influential artist who cultivated the climate for pop country to expand into the wide acceptance that many artists enjoy today. Her 90’s records are so full of catchy bops and memorable one-liners so to top off this review, I highly recommend revisiting those records and ignoring this one.