Mitchell Tenpenny – This Is The Heavy

Riser House Entertainment / Sony Music Entertainment

Release Date: September 18th 2022

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Mitchell Tenpenny– This Is The Heavy (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. This Is the Heavy
  2. Good Place
  3. Always Something with You
  4. We Got History
  5. Truth About You
  6. Sleeping Alone
  7. More Than Whiskey Does
  8. Obsession
  9. Good and Gone
  10. Do You
  11. Bucket List
  12. Cry Baby
  13. Miss You Cause I’m Drinking
  14. Elephant in the Room (feat. Teddy Swims)
  15. Happy and I Hate It
  16. Now We’re Talking
  17. Losers
  18. Still Thinkin’ ‘Bout You
  19. Long as You Let Me
  20. That’s How She Goes

In 2021, I wrote a pretty negative review of Mitchell Tenpenny’s Christmas album Naughty List. At the time, I hadn’t heard a single thing about Mitchell and his music. I had first heard about him when his video for “Bucket List” surfaced online one day on my YouTube home page. I was… well I wasn’t transfixed or that captivated, but it was ok-ish. A song that actually would fit right at home on K-Love or any other Christian radio station, that speaks about how we should always strive to do what we want to do today instead of some far off distant date in the future which may or may not come, that ‘…I’ma love a little more, dream a little deeper, leave all the leavers, keep all the keepers, find peace of mind in the time the good Lord gives, I’ma cross one off, put two more on it, say, “I love you” ‘fore the moment’s gone, and never have to ask myself, “What if”, when I get to the bottom of my bucket list…’. And the fact that this radio friendly song would sound right at home on a CCM radio station, is in part due to the fact that Mitchell has a vocal eerily similar to CCM artist Micah Tyler, and also reminds me vocally of Danny Gokey, JJ Weeks, Dave from Sidewalk Prophets, and Bart from MercyMe. Despite being a country singer (who hasn’t really dominated that much on the country charts until around about… now?) it seemed to me that Mitchell didn’t really have the presence of a country star and does actually sound like a CCM singer. In essence, I concluded that Naughty List was just… there. Not a good album, but an album fit for background music. Mitchell is a country star on the rise though, and I’m sure he will dominate in the upcoming months and years. Fast forward to now, and Mitchell recently released his latest full length album This Is The Heavy this past September. We haven’t had a chance to review this project until now; but last year, we did voice our thoughts and opinions on Mitchell’s 2022 EP The Low Light Sessions.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to listen to this 2022 project. I had decided that Mitchell wasn’t a ground-breaking country artist. But “Horseshoes And Hand Grenades” is such a powerful and catchy opener… and so I had to listen, and give my thoughts. You can read my entire review here; but the essence was that The Low Light Sessions is a superb EP that delivers on all accounts- musically, thematically, lyrically and vocally. Country albums are supposed to inspire, move, comfort, impact and encourage. This one inspires a lot, unlike Mitchell’s Christmas album. There are plenty of gems here (maybe aside from “My Next Sad Song”)… and now I have high hopes for This Is The Heavy. And so… how is This Is The Heavy, 9-ish months out from the official album release? Well… that’s a loaded question and a complicated question- and you’ll find out in a minute.

The long and short of it is that This Is The Heavy is 20 songs long. It’s just over an hour long- and probably no one in today’s society (from Gen Z and maybe millennials!) would have the time and patience to sit through and listen to an album of that length. Not that people listen to albums for the full listening experience nowadays- because people cherry pick songs from Spotify here and there anyway. That’s neither here nor there though. The point is that no matter which way you slice the album, it’s frankly too long. Sure, Mitchell seems to be a great guy (and his wife Meghan Patrick would probably agree with you!), and he does have passion and heart and soul as evidenced in all of these songs. But to me personally, the entire album feels less than the sum of its parts. It’s a nice country/rock/pop album that is great to put on as background music. But if you want an album to wow you beyond belief and to convince you that this is the album of the year… then Mitchell’s project isn’t it. Because apart from “Bucket List”, sadly no other song seems to be hard-hitting to that same extent.

To be honest, there are plenty of other 20-song projects (or long-ish projects) that have wowed me in the past more-so that Mitchell’s effort. Songwriter by Richard Marx, both HOLY FVCK and Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over by Demi Lovato, Life After Death by TobyMac, Subject To Change by Kelsea Ballerini, The Loneliest Time by Carly Rae Jepsen, Bell Bottom Country by Lainey Wilson, Goldmine (Deluxe Edition) by Gabby Barrett, Firebird by Natalie Imbruglia, 29: Written In Stone by Carly Pearce, and even this year’s My Story Your Glory by Matthew West. All of these albums are north of 14 tracks (what I reckon is the sweet spot in terms of suitable number of tracks for an album until the average person becomes tired or bored!), and I reckon the reason why these albums have resonated with me are because there seems to be a purpose in the album. There’s a theme or a journey the artist is going through within these tracks which is compelling to me. or the songs are actually engaging and resonating because they are good songs, and they just happen to be contained in a ‘long’ album. but on the whole (and this is why I intentionally didn’t review John Legend’s 24 song album LEGEND); long albums are a problem. There’s an article I read about long albums that I agree with; and in the case of Mitchell Tenpenny’s This Is The Heavy… perhaps the track list might have flowed better if 5 songs were cut in the middle? Perhaps tracks 10-14 (which blur together) could have been cut, and “Bucket List” (track #11) been placed earlier? But no doubt, these melodies are individually powerful, and some are even resonating (inclusive of “Obsession”, “We Got History”, “Good And Gone”, “Good Place”, “Still Thinkin’ ‘Bout You”, “Truth About You” and “That’s How She Goes”). But no one is literally going to listen to a 20-song album, aside from a long-time fan of the artist. And maybe that’s the point. Is Mitchell capturing his long-time fans? Because unfortunately he won’t get new ones from this album. Maybe Mitchell is content in creating albums and capturing fans who love long albums? All jokes aside, perhaps This Is The Heavy would’ve benefitted if it was a double disc, or split into 2 albums of 10?

Mitchell Tenpenny is indeed a country star on the rise- I’ve mentioned this already. Mitchell is also an artist that I’m positive will dominate in the upcoming months and years. Naughty List was underwhelming… but The Low Light Sessions is a superb EP that delivers on all accounts- musically, thematically, lyrically, and vocally. Sadly though, This Is The Heavy is alright, but nothing much more. The songs are good, but there are too much of them, and when it’s the same or similar song structure and music, the album can drag a bit. Maybe I’m not a fan of bro-country or boyfriend-country like Dan & Shay or Blake Shelton or Luke Bryan or Brad Paisley. But… give this album a chance because you may just resonate with it. Sure, Mitchell’s voice isn’t that unique. But he overall still more than makes up for it with some incredible songs and heartfelt lyrics. Even if you can’t get through this entire album in one sitting, I’m sure you will feel blessed and inspired. Well done Mitchell, I can’t wait to hear what’s next from you in the future!

It was originally going to be about 12 songs long but I just kept writing songs every day and we generated so much music that I kept adding to it. It had been 2-3 years since I put out a record and I just kept calling the label to say, ‘Hey, can I add two more?’ (laughing)

It got to 16 and I was, like, ‘I need two more’ and then when it got to 19 I decided it needed to be 20 or my brain just wouldn’t work with a weird number like that! (laughing)

There were songs that I just couldn’t not have on there, you know?

We had so many songs. We’ve already started writing for the next record! Right now, we can get more music out there than we could have traditionally done a few years ago so records are getting longer but then people want more content in this singles-driven world and so if we’ve got it, we’re gonna give it you!

I’ll always be drawn to heartbreak, man! That’s kinda just what a Country music songwriter lives with, right? I have been writing some new stuff that I’m not necessarily living through right now. I like to reflect on things that happened to me and things that might happen in the future, so it’s very rare that I write about things that are going on right now. 

I also like to just make something up. A lot of my songs are not biographical or historical things that happened to me, they are just stories about life and people, that’s where I find the fun in writing.

6 songs to listen to: Bucket List, Obsession, We Got History, Good Place, Still Thinkin’ ‘Bout You, Truth About You

Score: 3.5/5

RIYL: Danny Gokey, Micah Tyler, Chris Young, Meghan Patrick, Morgan Wallen, Cody Johnson

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