Shania Twain – Still the One – Live from Vegas
SHANIA TWAIN – STILL THE ONE – LIVE FROM VEGAS (2015)
Featuring Shania Twain, Cory Churko, Hardy Hemphill, JD Blair, Keith Nelson, Jason Mowery, Joshua Ray, Justin Schipper, Ryan Kowarsky, Don Kowarsky, Andrea Whitt, Jennifer Eriksson, Mandy Andreason, Adrian Lee, Paul Benshoof, Miguel Perez, Devin Walker, Donald Romain, Mark Romain and Carrie Ann Brown.
Directed by Raj Kapoor and Mark D. Allen.
Distributed by Eagle Vision. 153 minutes. Not Rated.
Back in 2003, I was speaking with respected singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash (daughter of Johnny Cash and Grammy winning musician) about the fact that most of what was played on country radio wasn’t actually country music. I mentioned Shania Twain and Faith Hill to her, who were the two biggest female singers at the time on country radio, but who actually played pop music.
“They are pop singers,” Cash agreed. “That’s what I think… that country radio plays pop records now.”
And that was true. Shania Twain is a pop singer, or pop/country if you’re being generous. After all, she was discovered and most of her hits were co-written by that well known-Nashville cat Robert “Mutt” Lange, the man behind the sound of Bryan Adams, AC/DC and Foreigner. Many of her songs were remixed for maximum cross-over success. She climbed the pop charts just as often as kickin’ up the dirt road of the country charts.
Despite her claim that she grew up country (in Canada) listening to Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton (both of whom know how to sell a pop song, but who are legitimate country legends), interestingly the one cover tune here is a lovely a capella snippet of the catchy British Invasion swinger “Carrie-Anne” by The Hollies, which she did as a tribute to her late mother (it was apparently her favorite song) and her sister (who was named for the tune).
She has no real twang, or even deep soulfulness, to her vocals, though she has a perfectly pleasant voice. Sure, she adds on some traditional instruments like banjos, fiddles, accordions and pedal-steel guitar, and the lyrics are all about beer and boots, but these are usually just seasoning to the songs.
And, if you are being completely honest, her short-lived spurt of stardom probably had as much to do with her striking attractiveness as her musical talent. (The same could be said for Faith Hill.)
So Shania Twain don’t really play country. That don’t depress me much.
She’s a pop/country singer. Which is why she’s playing Caesar’s Palace in Vegas in this concert video, not the Grand Ol’ Opry. And guess what? She is actually really good at it. Shania: Still the One – Live from Vegas is about as down home as Country Bear Jamboree in Disneyland, but as a Disney-like extravaganza, it’s pretty damned entertaining.
In the decade plus since her heyday, Twain has kept a fairly low profile. She and Hill have long since been replaced as the go-to cute pop-country queen by Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. Much of this has to do with the fact that it took nearly a decade to follow up her 2002 hit album Up!! In that time, she stayed out of the limelight, released a few singles and a Greatest Hits album, did a barely-noticed reality show and weathered an ugly divorce with her ex-husband and musical partner Lange and got remarried.
Still, it was a bit of a surprise when Twain decided to take up a residency in Las Vegas, where she would headline in Caesar’s Palace for two years. This is a representative show during the residency, and it seems to have been a fun and shiny show. From the moment she is flown in to the stage on a souped up motorcycle, Still the One is an orgy of sights and sounds. The fact that it resembles a Britney Spears concert more than something you’d expect by Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn doesn’t matter so much here.
Twain is finally owning her pop artistry. Good for her.
She runs through a fun and funky grouping of some of her biggest hits, surrounded by hunky dancers, full old-west bar sets, video backgrounds and even a fake campfire setting.
Twain pouts and preens through her biggest hits, the twang-by-numbers boot scooters like “Any Man of Mine,” “Up!” and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” go down easy like a nice (light) beer. And if self-reliance anthems like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much” aren’t exactly deep, they are damned catchy.
Truth is, though, the best songs are when she sands off any pretenses to country, because Twain is a damned good adult contemporary balladeer. She waits here until the encore before showing off this skill with versions of her two biggest hits, the gorgeous “You’re Still the One” and “From This Moment On.” More than any other songs here, Twain really connects with the emotion of the lyrics, not having to rely on props, sets dancers and video to connect. I wish Twain had done more of this kind of thing, specifically the two spectacular love songs “You’ve Got A Way” and “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” are sadly missing.
However, other than these two missing songs, and I have to admit they are slightly more obscure songs in her career, Still the One – Live from Vegas is a fine representation of a very worthy pop artist with a bit of a country vibe.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 7, 2015.