Single Review: Shania Twain “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”

It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing
Year: 2004
Album: Up!

What goes Up! must come down. On Shania Twain’s new ballad “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing,” she is not her usual lovey-dovey self.

Instead, she’s dealing with heartbreak (“Hope life’s been good to you/since you’ve been gone/I’m doin’ fine now/I’ve finally moved on.”) Inside, though, she’s still upset, as she reveals in the chorus (“my heart only breaks/when it’s beating.”) But Shania, the super trooper that she is, won’t admit that she’s heartbroken. The happy verses are only a front.

At least this time, the tone is correct. In the last single which she sang about a failed romance (1997’s UK only single “When”), it was unusually upbeat and chirpy. “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing” is a traditional, adult comtemporary ballad. Produced by Mutt Lange (Def Leppard), the single has an early 80s, power rock ballad feel but with quieter guitars. The music is barely noticeable, as it’s bland as the new spring line of Gap clothing.

Twain’s voice is thin, but mostly is processed by Pro-tools. During the chorus, her voice goes from straining the notes to pitch perfect in a matter of seconds. She also needs to work on conveying emotion. Like a horrible actress in a dramatic role, she thinks that singing slowly and overenuciating words is being sad.

Finally, it seems like Shania Twain’s growing some layers. Maybe someday she’ll even successfully emote a feeling or two.


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