Queen Of Me

Queen Of Me

In the six years since Shania Twain released her 2017 album Now, the country-pop trailblazer has been through the wringer. In 2018, she underwent open-throat surgery—an attempt to fix lingering vocal issues caused by a 2003 bout with Lyme disease—that required her to not only be conscious, but to sing through the operation so that the doctors could identify any misalignment. “Terrible,” she tells Apple Music. But getting her voice back after 15 years? “Euphoric.” Then, at the height of the pandemic, a bad case of COVID morphed into life-threatening pneumonia that led to Twain being airlifted to a hospital. “I was pretty much dying,” she says. But she prevailed. Twain has made a career out of turning trauma into triumph. Her warm, winking, wholesome hits have always offered more than comfort; they reframe the way we see ourselves and our circumstances for the better. Bad breakup? Relish your freedom! Disrespected? Reclaim your womanhood. Not impressed much? Demand better. On album after album, she’s led by example, processing her many hardships—a violent, abusive childhood; the death of both of her parents in a car crash; a messy divorce sparked by her husband’s affair with her best friend; and so on—through relatable, hopeful songs that depict someone stronger, bolder, brighter. On her sixth full-length, she does it again—only this time, raspier and a little more sensual with her new post-surgery voice. (She has leaned into the change, of course, noting that she “actually got more depth.”) Queen of Me is more complex than its bumper-sticker title lets on; these songs explore loneliness, regret, motherhood, marriage, survival, and the strength it takes to keep your head held high. These would be heavy topics in anyone else’s hands, but Twain, a seasoned, savvy songwriter, has always had a way of floating over her misfortunes, making even the most dispiriting obstacles feel surmountable and small. The woman simply refuses to wallow. Instead, she flips the script: A toxic, controlling ex inspires a toast to her financial independence (“Queen of Me”); breaking up with a dead-end narcissist sparks an empowerment anthem about knowing her worth (“Brand New”); and a harrowing near-death experience prompts a tribute to the invisible, life-giving forces we all take for granted (“Inhale/Exhale AIR”). “You celebrate when you get through something difficult,” she says. “I do, anyway.”

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