"I'm so overdue," the country queen tells EW. "I feel like I just need to keep making albums now."
Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

When you’ve sold a bajillion albums and become one of the best-selling female artists in history, you can be allowed a little time off. So it’s been for country-pop queen Shania Twain. But after her successful two-year Las Vegas residency and 2015’s Rock This Country tour, she’s finally returning with a follow-up to 2002’s diamond-certified Up! “I’m so overdue!” says the 51-year-old. “I feel like I just need to keep making albums now.”

For her fifth studio LP, due in late Spring of 2017, Twain drew upon years of melodic and lyrical ideas that she had stored on various recording devices. “There’s, like, five of them,” she says with a laugh. “I’m forever backing things up. So if it’s a rainy day or I’m bored, I’ll go through my electronics and listen to things. They’ll have titles like ‘Fun beat’ or ‘Fab memory.’” Over the years, she’s laid down demos at home using GarageBand and Pro Tools. “It’s really fun to experiment with arrangements,” she says. “I did so many of my backing vocal arrangements — just being able to have all these multitracks and moving them around and experimenting that way. By the time I got into the studio, I was already quite familiar with what I wanted to do.”

Armed with those gigabytes of intel, Twain teamed up with producers Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, One Direction), Ron Aniello (Bruce Springsteen), Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), and songwriter-producer Matthew Koma to hone the material. “They’re all very different from each other,” she says of her collaborators. “And I’m a very focused person in the studio. It’s not like it’s not fun, but the joy comes in watching the whole thing grow and getting locked into that creative mode — that’s so indulgent for me.”

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Twain says the finished album includes “painful and melancholy ballads that evolved into completely upbeat songs” to “triumphant” girl-power rockers. Although her ex-husband Mutt Lange, who produced Up! and 1997’s record-breaking Come On Over, is out of the picture, Twain is as confident as ever about her new material. “By the end [of the recording process], I felt like I had climbed a huge mountain and was standing on top of it, looking God in the eye, and saying, ‘I’m here! What do I gotta do next?’”