Tenille Arts – Girl to Girl

19th & Grand

Release Date: October 22nd 2021

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Tenille ArtsGirl to Girl (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Back Then Right Now
  2. That’s My Friend You’re Talkin’ About
  3. One Bedroom Apartment
  4. Breakup Songs (feat. Callista Clark)
  5. Life Goes Like That
  6. Girl to Girl
  7. Heartbreak Regulars
  8. Mama’s Boy
  9. Over You is You (feat. Matt Stell)
  10. Give It To Me Straight
  11. High School Sweetheart
  12. Sweet Sixteen
  13. Growing Old Young

Tenille Arts has become an artist that I’ve become excited to listen to and enjoy, ever since my review of ther sophomore album Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between, which is reviewed here. In it, I listened to what was, in my opinion, a great concept album- 12 songs divided into three sections- four songs about love, four songs about heartbreak, and four songs about…well, everything else. With Tenille’s music being likened to that of her contemporaries (like Lauren Alaina, Cassadee Pope, Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie & Tae and Maren Morris- all of which have been written about and discussed at length in the blog series about 50 influential up-and-coming artists); I am amazed about how much I found myself humming along to the tunes of Love, Heartbreak and Everything In Between, an album that people can relate to at various points in their own life, as we’re reminded that to journey through this life and grow as a whole person means to address the whole self- the love part, the heartbreak part, and the thing in the middle too. Fastforward to November 2021, and Tenille has unveiled to us a few more songs for our enjoyment- ‘Tears’ (reviewed here), ‘TERRITORY’ (review here), ‘Give It To Me Straight’ (reviewed here), ‘Back Then, Right Now’ (reviewed here), and her anticipated album Girl To Girl, an album that released very quickly after Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between, arguably Tenille’s ‘breakout’ album that featured her chart-topping #1 hit single, ‘Somebody Like That’. And now on Girl To Girl, we see her focus and trajectory change from singing songs about love, life, and heartbreak, to the themes and messages present on Girl to Girl, ranging from body acceptance and connecting to different places wherever you go in life, to the unpredictability of life itself, and the longing for the simplicities of yesteryear to come invade the complexities of now. Basically, Girl to Girl is an ‘advice’ album, and I find myself relating to a few songs myself, even though the title of the album is called Girl to Girl…maybe meaning that Tenille herself was writing from a perspective of advice ‘from girls to girls’? Girl to Girl reminds us, that influence, impact, advice and encouragement can come from all facets of music, genres and people, and while I won’t necessarily be the initial target audience by Tenille and her music, doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy her music. Cause I do. And Girl to Girl is the result of an artist who pulled out all the stops to create a country album that speaks to the heart of just doing life with people in this volatile world called ‘2021’. An album that is welcomed and respected by anyone who has appreciated Tenille’s music before; this new offering is much more encompassing as much more of these songs on this album are universal in theme and message- which is nevertheless a good thing, indeed.

Let me just preface this by saying that on the whole; Tenille’s music is intriguing the say the least, and just-plain musically infectious in a good way, to say the most. ‘Give it To Me Straight’, a single released in February of this year (and subsequently was placed on the track-listing of Girl to Girl) hits all the right notes, and is catchy, and compelling, and hopefully, with time, will have a lot of replay value. A song that isn’t a breakup song, but rather, a pre-breakup song, Tenille imparts to us these lyrics of how the other person ought to ‘…give it to me straight, you ain’t gotta waste, no time putting honey in the Jack D whiskey, either way it’s gonna burn when it hits me, if my hearts gonna break, baby, there ain’t no sugar on a rim or a lime twist to make this go down easy, if you came here to leave me, give it to me straight…’ This song is a ‘rip the bandaid off quickly’ song. A ‘keep me out of my misery’ song. And sometimes you need moments in life where that happens for you. You don’t necessarily need sugar-coating on issues in life, and this song is a reminder, that sometimes, the best and easiest way of breaking unfortunate news, is to just do it, instead of trying to dance around the issue, and making it awkward for everyone involved. This is a song that is a reminder that sometimes in life, we are called to be the bearer of bad news to someone, and in that moment, we need to figure out if we going to ‘give it to them straight’, or not. Regardless on how we act in our own situations, what Tenille has presented is a song that can hopefully reevaluate how we break delicate news to the people we meet on a daily basis.

‘Back Then, Right Now’, the next song released as a single in May 2021, was the official first single from Girl to Girl, as it being single no. 1 from this new album, really hits it all in its stride, and is quite possibly a track full of fun and enjoyment, that it’s what the world needs right now- a reminder that quite often, the past and the innocence and simplicity of that, is what is needed in the complexities of life, right now. It’s a song about the past, nostalgia and trying to recapture something of generations gone by, and to reignite something here in this present moment. Or in more of a down-to-earth explanation; ‘Back Then, Right Now’ is a song about simpler times, moments in your life when you were younger that you don’t necessarily undertake at the moment, and now all you do is just replay those moments in your head, in hope that what happened in the past can be recreated in the present. While such a song as this can be considered as trying to hold onto something of a former glory that may not be there right now; ‘Back Then, Right Now’ is still a reminder of how much things have changed in life- some for the good, and others, not so good. The advent of technology can be considered as both a betterment to society, and a hinderance, all in one breath, while advancements in social media often usually come with increased mental health issues and the inability to interact with people on a face-to-face level. Streaming TV shows and movies online has killed the video store, while CD’s, DVDs, video cassette tapes, and VHS, all have reminded us about times in life where things, trivial things, didn’t used to matter so much. Life was simpler back then, and this song is a hopeful reminder to bring a certain feeling that we had back then, and to transport it into right now, so as to not constantly watch our character turn into something we know we don’t like ourselves. ‘Back Then Right Now’ is a longing and yearning, and a track that reminds us that simpler times without the technology, in turn means simpler worries as well, or even no worries. Sometimes progress isn’t always progress, and this song is a challenge for us all to get back to our own roots, to not become co-dependent on technology as we often are.

Throughout the rest of the album, we see Tenille deliver heartfelt songs that people from a lot of walks of life can relate to and really understand, especially in this culture of today where people are longing and grasping onto things to make sense of what is happening in the news right now. ‘That’s My Friend You’re Talking About’ is a song sung from the POV of a friend and an outsider, looking at someone who is going through struggles in their weight. Whether the song is speaking about bulimia, anorexia, or something as all-encompassing as self-esteem, remains to be seen; but the message still is the same. People, especially young girls, are hard on themselves, and harder, when they look in the mirror. There’s this culture that has been cultivated for so long, that says that if you’re skinnier and prettier, then you’ll become more accepted in a society that unfortunately shows that beauty is only skin-deep. ‘That’s My Friend You’re Talking About’ is an attempt to remedy this obsession we can have with image, and the problem that we get all our worth from what the magazines say, or from what the media says. When it should be known and understood, that our worth and value comes from God Himself, and no one else can take it away from us…not even our family and friends. ‘One Bedroom Apartment’ features more of the piano in the forefront, as Tenille invites us all into this journey that she has us on- into an apartment where memories are made, and life experiences were felt. This song is personal to Tenille- maybe she was writing about when she was moving places, and she was trying to give advice to the next person (or people) moving into the place after she left. ‘One Bedroom Apartment’ is a reminder that while the memories will always go with you when you move places in your life, memories can often be tied to a place just the same. Houses and apartments are more than just that- it’s moments and experiences that will shape us and continue to mould us into the people that we are going to be, both now and into the future. While it doesn’t really matter where we live, we ought not to discount how the place you do live in, and the environment around you, shapes you more than you may even know.

‘Breakup Songs’ is a track that cleverly alludes to songs of the 1990s and 2000s, and really divides them up into two- breakup songs and love songs, and the song ‘Breakup Songs’ suggests and Tenille herself isn’t in a place in her life to focus too much on breakup songs, and thus, she’s ‘breaking up’ with ‘breakup songs’. A reminder that every song is needed in our lives at different seasons, we are reminded that the song that got us through our twenties may not necessarily be healthy for us to hear during our thirties, and vice versa. There’s a time and a place for breakup songs, and maybe if it’s not now, then maybe we do need to ‘break-up’ with them, as the song suggests. ‘Life Goes Like That’ speaks about the unpredictability of life, as this acoustically driven upbeat melody reminds us of how we all should embrace the spontaneous nature of how life can go, and that it’s ok to not always have the answers for life, because ‘…life goes like that, na na na na na na…’ Yes, we can make plans for our lives, but the misunderstood quote of ‘God laughs when we’re making plans’ still stands, because ultimately, we can make the tremendously meticulous plans, we have to be at peace with everything not going the way that we want them to go. Sometimes we can learn the most when we’re not living the life we plan, and maybe, that’s ok. ‘Girl To Girl’ speaks of this advice that people don’t necessarily like or even want, but advice that people who may have been in similar situations, can give to us about what we are experiencing. This song in particular is speaking about how someone who has gone through heartbreak and breakups can impart wisdom and perspective to someone currently on a euphoric high, being with someone who may be known to be a player. But ‘Girl to Girl’ can still be applicable to a variety of settings, in a sense that whatever we experience in life, there’s always someone who’s experienced it before, who can offer perspective, advice, maybe even a warning or to. We ought not to become know-it-alls before our time- because it’s ok to receive advice from someone who is a much more seasoned ‘traveller’ on this Earth.

‘Heartbreak Regulars’ speaks about how everyone grieves in a different way when there’s a breakup, and no two people will react in the same way when their heart becomes broken. ‘Heartbreak Regulars’ speaks of how we ought not to judge someone’s process in dealing through traumatic events (breakups, either BF/GF relationships or even divorce, are quite possibly one of the most traumatic things that can happen to an individual in life), and that however someone deals with their hurt, loss and pain, they are at least trying to work on themselves, and reconcile their own feelings, which is what people should be doing instead of burying their head in the sand and not dealing with things that may have been the cause to relationship breakdown. Tenille also covers the topic of protecting your heart and preventative measures in relationships, as ‘Mama’s Boy’ is a reminder that when you break someone’s heart, everyone in that family becomes affected, rather than just the person you had been dating. Relationships are complex; and should be given the respect that people often don’t really give it- they throw the word ‘love’ out so flippantly, that when something else (or someone else) comes along that they also ‘love’…well, that’s just when your heart (as well as your mama’s, and papa’s as well) is going to break, more than you can even realise.

‘Over You is You’ is the other collaboration Tenille has on the album (alongside ‘Breakup Songs’ featuring up-and-coming Calista Clark); and speaks about how someone can be so tied up in the toxicity of a past relationship that they can’t necessarily move on in their lives, because they are either still attracted to their previous life, or they just seem to fall into the same habits, again and again. ‘Over You is You’ speaks specifically about relationships, and how someone keeps going back to their ex, even if they want to move out of what may have been detrimental to them in the past. But the song can also remind us of our own addictions and demons, not necessarily relationships, but things that the past holds over us, that we believe we can’t move on, because of _____. ‘Over You is You’ shouldn’t be how we ought to live, and maybe this song is us realising that we have some things in our life we need to deal with, instead of just falling back into the same patterns that got us to the place and space we didn’t like. ‘High School Sweetheart’ shows Tenille writing a song to her younger self, reminding her that the things she’s feeling and experiencing aren’t going to define her life forever. Sometimes we wished we had people telling us not to worry about this and that, when we were in high school; as looking back on things now, hindsight tells us that the things that worried us back then, aren’t even on the spectrum of things we worry about now. Or as Tenille herself says it, ‘…you never want to hear that advice [or even warnings] from like your parents. They can preach all day long about how high school was just high school. But when you’re in that moment and you are walking those halls, you feel like it’s everything. No matter what people tell you, you feel like it’s everything. And so I wanted to write this album from a point of view where I’m like, “I want to be your big sister and tell you, hey, for real, this is just high school. I’ve been there, done that.”…’

The album then rounds out with ‘Sweet Sixteen’ and ‘Growing Old Young’- the former is a song about reflecting upon life when we were teenagers and understanding that things were simpler back then, even if back then, we didn’t really think so, and thought that trivial matters and decisions were in fact life-and-death ones; while it is the latter ‘Growing Old Young’, that really rounds out the album, and is one of Tenille’s most vulnerable songs yet. ‘Growing Old Young’ speaks about growing up before your time- maybe it was because of circumstance or situation, but sometimes in life, you have to grow up and take on responsibilities…and that normally happens when you’re a teenager and then move into adulthood. But in some rare cases, children are the ones that grow up because they have to- either because they are in a broken home and they themselves need to work to survive, or its because of trauma and the children are the ones to ‘grow up’ and face their demons at a younger age than anyone should. ‘Growing Old Young’, though it can seem like a glamourous idea (wow, I’m an adult, I’m now taken seriously!), sometimes what should happen, is to let kids just be kids and enjoy life, rather than thrusting responsibility on their shoulders, responsibility that they shouldn’t be able to handle at a young age.

‘…I think there are so many things in our lives that make us feel like we had to grow up a little too fast and whether that’s being bullied at school, just not accepting yourself, trouble at home with your parents or addiction, substance abuse. It’s like all of those things… I’m like, “These are things that go on in the everyday home that people never touch on in country music.” It’s like this thing. And I say in the song, like sweep it under the carpet. That’s what everybody does all the time. And I’ve seen my parents’ generation do that. That was kind of a thing. It was just we don’t want to talk about it. We don’t want to talk about mental health. We don’t want to go there because that’s too deep for an everyday conversation. But I think everybody, just even over the last year on social media, people have been opening up, sharing what they’ve been through. And to me until I started to do that myself, I thought I’m so alone. I don’t want to put this out there because I don’t think anybody has been through what I’ve been through. And the second I started talking about things and opening up about anxiety and all of these things, it was like, “Everybody I know has been through the same things and it immediately makes you feel less alone.” And it makes you feel like you can go on about your day and not feel like you’ve got this big secret or this big burden on your heart and weight on your shoulders. You can open up and share things with people and especially writing this song with two men. That was, to me, the most surprising thing was that these guys wanted to sit in this room and open up about that. Like what an incredible just nod to just telling men to open up…’

Tenille Arts has created an album full of heart, potential, poignancy, emotion, joy, advice and wisdom, as Girl to Girl is an album that every young person should have, especially in this uncertain culture people have ascribed to these days. Yes, the title is called Girl to Girl, but I still firmly believe that young men can be impacted by this album too…I know I was. This album really came at me in a good way from left field, and really reminds me of why country music, in all its facets and nuances, is fast becoming one of the most appreciative genres of music that I can get my head around and my teeth into. For this album is one of the albums of 2021 so far- up there with Phil Wickham’s Hymn of Heaven, Delta Goodrem’s Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, Riley Clemmon’s Godsend, Needtobreathe’s Into the Mystery, Mike Donehey’s Flourish and Switchfoot’s Interrobang; musically as a country album, and holistically as one too. With Tenille fast becoming one of the most underrated musicians within not just country music, but music, full stop; this is a must-have if you enjoy country music, Tenille’s albums Rebel Child and Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between, or both. Well done Tenille for such a powerful and emotive album, can’t wait to whatever the next #1 single will be after ‘Somebody Like That’…maybe ‘Growing Old Young’ next?

3 songs to listen to: One Bedroom Apartment, Give It To Me Straight, Growing Old Young

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Carly Pearce, Lainey Wilson, Gabby Barrett, Lindsay Ell, Lady A

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