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“Now,” a vulnerable new album by Shania Twain, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

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Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

“Now” is the first album in 15 years from the country music crossover megastar Shania Twain, and this week, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. Ms. Twain’s return comes at a fraught time for country: female performers have been marginalized, and male performers are increasingly relying on an anodyne stereotype.

Shania Twain Was Country’s Crossover Queen. What Is She Now?

In her day, Ms. Twain was both a pop centrist and a country rebel, and many of the aesthetic moves she pioneered ended up, following a period of some resistance, as central to the sound of Nashville. But in contrast to the grand-scaled, often whimsical anthems that dominated her peak years, on her new album she’s made a turn toward the vulnerable.

“My songwriting is my diary and it is my best friend,” she told The New York Times last month. “It’s a place I can go to where it’s not expecting anything from me. There’s just no inhibitions there. It’s a complete free place to say whatever I want to say.”

To discuss Ms. Twain’s legacy and new work on this week’s Popcast, Mr. Caramanica spoke with Jewly Hight, a Nashville-based journalist, critic and regular country music chronicler.

Email your questions, thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in pop music to popcast@nytimes.com.

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