Reviver Records LLC
Release Date: January 10th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Somebody Like That
- Slow It Down
- Wild Love
- Butterfly Effect
- I Hate This
- Nothing to See Here
- Another Life
- Right Guy Wrong Time
- Call You Names
- Missing You
- Wouldn’t You Like to Know
- Everybody Knows Everybody
Country music has always been a music genre that hasn’t been a go-to genre for me for most of my life. I listened to a lot of CCM growing up, and it was only this last year and a half, when I started formulating a top 100 influential artists list, and started writing about country artists and superstars like Keith Urban, Lady A, Carrie Underwood, The McClymonts, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride, that I started to appreciate the musical genre as a whole, and realise and understand that this genre called country, is so nuanced, unique, at times complicated, and at other times, quasi-spiritual and almost CCM-like…which in a strange way is good. And as I sit here in November 2020, and understand and realise that country music in fact widened my appreciation of not only country, but of other other musical genre that wasn’t CCM, I am able to appreciate music that is on some scale, different to what I had grew up listening to, and that’s ok. Country music is all about storytelling, and while songs may not necessarily have a nice neat bow like how a lot of CCM does, country music nevertheless has a raw, real and honest approach, something that allows listeners to connect to a song and be reminded that they are not alone in what they’re feeling, even if what they’re feeling isn’t as conducive or helpful to one’s psyche. Tenille Arts is one such up-and-coming country artist where I’ve found to thoroughly enjoy her music, and as I listened to her new album (well, it’s not really that new, the album did unveil to us in January 2020), and liken her music 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 my brother Josh’s blog series about 50 influential up-and-coming artists); I am amazed about how much I find myself humming along to the tunes of Love, Heartbreak and Everything In Between, a well-rounded album about…you guessed it, love, heartbreak and just life. Likening this album and its concept to Lindsay Ell’s heart theory that dropped in August 2020, Tenille Arts’ Love, Hearbreak and Everything In Between is a 12-track concept album about stages in your life where feel different things for different reasons. Because the album is broken up into 3 distinct sections, people can relate to the songs 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. Tenille has given to us a powerful and emotive sophomore album (her debut album REBEL CHILD was released digitally in 2017, and a deluxe edition in 2018), and with numerous listens, is actually one of my favourite country albums of 2020 thus far, alongside Lindsay Ell’s heart theory, Little Big Town’s Nightfall, Keith Urban’s THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1 and The McClymonts’ Mayhem to Madness.
With the album being split up into 3 parts of 4 songs relating to love, heartbreak and everything else in between, respectively; Tenille has offered up a unique project where people can relate to a different set of songs, depending on where they are in their life at the moment. The first four songs, titled Love, presents more of an optimistic view of life and the feelings that someone gets when they are in love, for the first time, maybe even for another time, or even just observing love presented and on display through other people. ‘Somebody Like That’, the first radio single from the album, is also the first track of the album as well, as Tenille offers up an ideal relationship and what people should strive for when being in a relationship. To be with someone that can see your potential, sees all your faults and flaws, and still sticks by you anyway. That can see your hangups, your mistakes, and loves you even in the brokenness and the mess that you are in. A love that is very reminiscent of the love that Christ has for each one of us, true love in the sense of the love given to us by Christ, is what we all should embody and long to emulate, when we pursue love in the earthly form. For relationships that are going to last, are going to be built upon this love that is unconditional, knows no boundaries and keeps no records of wrongdoing. That is selfless, building people up, and reminding people that in togetherness and a synergy that comes from being in relationship with another, is what will pursue people on their own journeys as couples, friends, and partners in life. ‘Somebody Like That’, as poppy as it is, reminds us all of this fact, that ‘…I want that all in, fallin’, keep the fire burning like the first time feeling, no matter what if I’m gonna love, I’m gonna love somebody like that kinda heart open arms says forever and will never ever take it back, if I’m gonna love, I’m gonna love somebody like that…’ ‘Slow It Down’ follows and is presented as a waltz-y country song about letting love hit us in a natural way, to slow down the feeling and let things happen naturally, rather than trying to steer the outcome in a certain way, as we humans usually do. We so often want a certain outcome to pass, and yet this song reminds us all that slowing down and letting things happen, can be just as cathartic, even more so, than to try to control situations and circumstances.
‘Wild Love’, the highlight musically from this set-of-4 tracks, is a retro-country feel and a track that someone can put on a jive to on a summer drive on the highway. A track that musically is reminiscent of the older-style country songs, and a little bit of the riff of The Beatle’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’ thrown in for good measure; ‘Wild Love’ speaks of this understanding that love in and of itself cannot be tamed, cannot be placed within the confines of what it should be, and that love is indeed wild, sometimes crazy, sometimes to the world’s eyes, can be seen as reckless. But love knows no rules, and love does away with what should be, and really states to the fact of what is. ‘Butterfly Effect’ rounds out the Love portion of the album, and is presented with looping percussion and an electronic-country feel, as Tenille showcases a feeling that happens when someone comes into your life totally unexpected, and you start to question whether everything is real, or if it is really ‘the butterfly effect’, a term and concept that states that little things undertaken and done will have massive big consequences and change the trajectory of someone’s life. While ‘The Butterfly Effect’ the song feels a little too overproduced at times, it’s heart and message still remains, and is a great way to end the Love portion of the 12-track album.
‘I Hate This’, ‘Nothing To See Here’, ‘Another Life’ and ‘Right Guy, Wrong Time’ are from the Heartbreak part of the album, and just from a impact POV, it is the heartbreak songs that carry the greatest weight, gravity and poignancy, even if the songs themselves don’t relate as much to me, a single guy, as they do with someone else. ‘I Hate This’ speaks of an internal struggle someone is having, after a breakup, and feeling things for someone, real, genuine things, when they themselves aren’t feeling them back. For rarely, breakups are amicable, and ‘I Hate This’ is in reference to all the deep, unsaid feelings felt by someone post-breakup, and the confusion that is around the fact that you should move on from someone, but still have a hard time doing so, for reasons unique to the person. The music video of ‘I Hate This’ really captures the internal turmoil someone has, as we have Tenille singing in a room, all spinning, and the furniture going everywhere- a depiction of someone’s mind being all over the place, because of the breaking of a relationship. ‘Nothing To See Here’ is a song where the internal battle is with yourself- that after a relationship ends, usually in a bitter and sour way, you want to be rid of the memories of this person, and yet everywhere you go, you find things and places, and memories dedicated to your ex-significant other. Tenille relays the fact that in such a relationship where breakups occur, there is indeed ‘nothing to see here’ especially if the relationship was abusive or was reminding someone of a time when they were more naïve than what they should’ve been. Regardless, ‘Nothing to See Here’ presents the dilemma of a person- who wants to be rid of the bad memories of this person (and in turn through a drastic measure, being rid of all memories), when they know they can’t, because of all the good memories they have shared. ‘Another Life’ is a song of lament, longing, of wishing for another life with another person, or even a person you loved before, but knowing that the life you live now is never going to be what you imagined it to be.
‘Another Life’ speaks of a thought that maybe all of us have had at one point or another- can we go ahead and live another life, or are we even happy and satisfied with the life we’ve been given? This song challenges this notion and understanding that we’d be happy someplace else, or even with someone else. And yet this song, as lament-y as it is, is a song I reckon that’ll be a catalyst for people to look within themselves and take a good look at their lives thus far, to see how they have gone about life in general and to see if their regrets is something they can really live with or not. ‘Right Guy, Wrong Time’ rounds out the Heartbreak section of the album, and states this unfortunate message, that there is a certain timing of a relationship for it to blossom and occur, and that there is such a term called ‘right guy (or in someone else’s case, right girl) wrong time’. When in reality, love usually comes when you yourself aren’t really expecting it, so if you were to put it all in technical terms, every moment of every day is of the ‘right ___ wrong time’ scenario. Timing usually isn’t perfect of how you would even perceive it to be, and even if someone comes along and alters your plans quite a bit, if it’s love, you can accommodate for that.
And Everything In Between is the remaining section on the album and presents some of the most interesting and overlooked songs on it. ‘Call You Names’ is a song about relationships with parents and especially mothers, and how you act to them when you’re younger, can be totally different to your interactions as adults. You realise later on in life, that your parents were just loving you the way they knew how, and that they just wanted the best for you in every circumstance, and that how you behaved towards them earlier on in life, wasn’t as fair as it could’ve been. The song itself is just as much honouring parents and especially mothers out there for all the hard work they’re doing, as it is a reckoning song about realising all the things kids have assumed about their parents that maybe should’ve been said or done in different ways. It is a realisation song, that what you do or say to people will have consequences, and to always err on the side of loving someone; than to call them names. ‘Missing You’ is a more positive-outlook song post-a-breakup, as the persona speaks about this notion and understanding of personal care after being with someone for so long. When you’re with someone for so long (often for all the wrong reasons), your identity starts to be them, and when they’re gone, you need to do a whole lot of soul-searching. This song is about taking care of yourself, about not missing the other person, because you’re trying to better yourself to be the best person you can be, so that when love comes-a-knocking again, you’re ready, to love, but not too headstrong, to appreciate, but not too naively, and to love again in a way of knowing that there’s a possibly of another heartbreak, but that falling in love again is well worth the risk. ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Know’ is possibly the most musically out-there song, and maybe because of the fact that it’s so musically different, I didn’t connect with it as much as other songs. Nevertheless, the message of the song is a unique one- about daring someone to fall for you, in all the fun, adventurous and risqué ways. The album then ends with ‘Everybody Knows Everybody’, a tongue-in-cheek song (and maybe even a celebratory song) about small towns, and that knowing each other, and knowing town secrets, and being a tight-knit community, can have both its good points and bad, have the times of camaraderie and friendship, but also have times of littleness and shame attached to decisions made in a country town.
‘…with this album there were actually a couple of songs that I wrote completely by myself, and those were just extremely honest and exactly what I felt, I wrote them in like 30 minutes. I would normally keep that stuff to myself, but I decided to send it to my publisher and a few other people, and they just fell in love with it. I actually posted one of them as just a one-take piano on YouTube, and people were freaking out over the song. I was like, ‘Okay, maybe people do like this’. Even though it’s so specific to my heartbreak. Sometimes I think the more specific you are, people find a way to relate to it…I wrote a song about my mom and kind of growing up, going from being like an angsty teenager and calling my mom some bad names, and then transitioning into her being my best friend and the one that I call for everything, so, that’s kind of what I mean by everything in between. Then there’s a song about my hometown bar in there in that section, and then a song about being over somebody, which I felt was like didn’t really fit into heartbreak or love…’ Tenille Arts has created an album full of heart, potential, poignancy, emotion, joy, hope, loss, lament, and everything else in between that showcases this album as being such that it feels like distinct ‘EPs’ of love, heartbreak and everything in between, but still feels like a whole album as well, both at the same time. 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 that standout for me, musically as a country album, and holistically as one too- rivalling other standout country albums heart theory (Lindsay Ell), Nightfall (Little Big Town), Mayhem to Madness (The McClymonts) and The SPEED OF NOW, Pt 1 (Keith Urban) as some of my favourite country albums of 2020 thus far. With this artist fast becoming one of the most intriguing new artists, of any genre, within the last couple of years, this is a must-have if you enjoy country music, Tenille’s music from 2018, or both. Well done Tenille for such a powerful and emotive album, can’t wait to whatever is in store next, in the upcoming weeks and months ahead!
3 songs to listen to: Somebody Like That, Wild Love, Call You Names
RIYL: Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Cassadee Pope, Maddie & Tae, Maren Morris