She was the queen of country pop, but with her latest album, Queen of Me, Shania Twain is eyeing the title of queen of pop at all. The famous Canadian cowgirl wanted to dance, she says, on the eve of the first of two concerts she will give at the Bell Center this year.

“I’ve never had so much fun,” Shania Twain says, with a big smile in her voice. Her tour is going well, the crowds are surpassing her expectations, her audience is diversifying (“There are several generations,” she gloats), and the Ontario-born superstar is happily singing.

His enthusiasm fits perfectly with the spirit of Queen of Me, released in February, his most pop album since Up!, at the turn of the millennium. Abandoning the country accents that we still heard on Now (2017), she opted for danceable rhythms and up-to-date sound packaging.

“The root of all my songs is always me and my guitar. I’m not trying to figure out how I want it to sound at the end of the day when I’m at that stage,” Shania Twain first explains. What has guided his writing this time around are the uncertainties and isolation associated with COVID-19. And above all a strong desire to rediscover joy and optimism.

“All the songs on the album are deliberately meant to be danceable. Even the last one, The Hardest Stone, is about optimism,” she says of this track about making peace with what you can’t change. Shania Twain adds that the general idea that runs through Queen of Me is to take back possession of yourself. “I am solely responsible for my state of mind, my gestures and the way I express myself,” she said. There’s a beauty in that too. This form of independence is very important to me. »

Under its generic pop packaging, Queen of Me is, it is true, in perfect harmony with what has guided Shania Twain since its beginnings: to do things in its own way. Even if it means disturbing or even shocking. Not Just a Girl, a documentary aired on Netflix which retraces her career and tells her fight against Lyme disease, indeed recalls how difficult her beginnings were.

Shania Twain shook up the country music world considerably at the turn of the 1990s. Being taken seriously and being recognized for her singing skills and her intelligence rather than her physicality was no small feat. affair. She says it more clearly in the documentary than in her interview with La Presse: she wanted to embrace her femininity and her sexy side. By choice. Like Madonna, Pat Benatar and a few others before her.

Those who didn’t ask her about her physique suggested that her success was due to the work of her producer, Robert Mutt Lange, who was her husband from 1993 to 2010 and had been at the helm of multimillion-dollar AC/ DC, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams. Without giving her the credit that was hers.

Decades later, Shania Twain admits to being a bit surprised at the resistance she encountered upon arriving in Nashville, the country music capital. “I thought people wouldn’t find me so different, because Dolly Parton had been there,” she explains. The queen of country had indeed quite shaken up the conventions and displayed her colors from her beginnings, notably with Dumb Blonde, an ironic song where she says with a smile “This dumb blonde is not stupid” (“This dumb blonde ain’t nobody’s fool”).

Shania Twain thought the way was at least somewhat open. She was wrong. “I realized it would be quite an adventure trying to be who I was, to implement the vision I had. I’m not just talking about what I wanted to write, but how I wanted to sound, how I wanted to present this universe and how I wanted to present myself, she says. It was my fight there, and it was his too. »

One of the keys, according to her, was humor. There was indeed a touch of mischief on some of his biggest hits of the 1990s like That Don’t Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman!. The clip of this song was also a nod to that, considered sexist, of Robert Palmer for Addicted to love. This sparkling side, her cowgirl power side, remains an essential element of her immense success. Come on Over has sold tens of millions of copies (40, it is said), which places it among the best-selling albums in all categories.

We feel less of this kind of wink on Shania Twain’s most recent records, but her desire to have fun remains present. Especially since the singer, whose voice has been affected by complications from Lyme disease, feels better than ever. “I think I sound sexier, because I have something a little more serious in my voice now,” she said. I am really happy and comfortable with my voice. »