Shania Twain’s Up! Leads New Releases

Hey! I’m talking to you! Shania Twain has a new album and it’s called Up! (Mercury Nashville). Two discs (for the price of one)! Wanna hear more about it? Let’s go!

The red CD is way rockin’! Lots of production but without overpowering the tunes! Ah-ah-ah! The green CD hasn’t grabbed me in the same way, although I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Wait a minute! Red? Green? What’s the catch, Fletch? Yo, Twain recorded the same 19 songs with two different vibes. Red = Pop! (Just like the soda can!) Green = Country! Word, these are not remixes. They were actually recorded twice. Why? One of the savviest stars in the world, Twain packaged the two CDs together as a goodwill gesture to her new fans who prefer her pop-sounding stuff, without alienating the old fans who still like that upbeat country twang. But remember, this is Shania we’re talking about (who can forget!) so it’s not really country. Or so they say! Who cares! Not me! Honest!

The titles alone are gonna getcha good: “Nah!,” “Ka-Ching!,” “Thank You, Baby! (For Makin’ Someday Come So Soon)” — that last one’s a highlight, up until twilight! I’m down with “What a Way to Wanna Be!” and “(Wanna Get to Know You) That Good!” but can’t hang with “Waiter! Bring Me Water!” despite the double exclamation points. Overall, though, I could so play the red CD at a party!

Rolling back to the green CD, the totally Twain-ish ballad titled “I’m Jealous” should dominate the country airwaves sometime next year. And why not? Shania stamps it with her own sexiness! But I wouldn’t call it a love song, exactly. Hey! Where is the wedding song? Relax, Max! It’s at the end! Unlike nine of the songs on Up!, “When You Kiss Me” remains unpunctuated, but it leaves a satisfying flavor at the end of this CD! Ow! Ow! Ow!

Wanna hear more? Downloads with a Middle Eastern twist are available on her Web site. It’s the blue mix! Lucky for you, the corresponding blue picture is included in the back of Up! I’m not sure which nationality Twain’s going for with the turquoise bracelets, checkerboard boots and sparkling string of jewels dangling down her forehead, but the girl’s got it going on! She also wrote her own liner notes! ‘Nuff said!

Dwight Yoakam spent the 1990s stretching country’s boundaries, and now he’s got a box set to show for his efforts. Reprise Please Baby (Rhino) collects the Kentucky native’s greatest hits, as well as numerous duets and previously unreleased material, on four CDs. Yoakam parted ways with Reprise recently and intends to release a solo album next year on his own label.

One of Texas’ most enduring songwriters, Billy Joe Shaver returns for another go-round with Freedom’s Child (Compadre). The easygoing album reunites Shaver with producer R.S. Field, who helmed Shaver’s sizzling 1993 album Tramp on Your Street. For a man who recently grieved the loss of his mother, wife and son (guitarist Eddy Shaver) in a two-year span, Shaver sounds in remarkably good spirits. Actor Robert Duvall, who is a friend of Shaver’s, appears in the video to “Freedom’s Child.” In turn, Shaver filmed a cameo in Duvall’s latest movie, Secondhand Lions. The Americana Music Association also awarded Shaver with a lifetime achievement award earlier this year, and he’s touring the Southeast throughout November.

Craig Shelburne has been writing for since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.