Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: June 26th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Tenille Townes– The Lemonade Stand (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Holding Out For the One
- Where You Are
- Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)
- White Horse
- I Kept the Roses
- When I Meet My Maker
- Come As You Are
- The Way You Look Tonight (feat. Keelan Donovan)
- Find You
- Somebody’s Daughter
- The Most Beautiful Things
If you all have been perusing our site until now, I guess it’s probably time to confess… that I’m a country music fan. I used to be ashamed of that fact- because how can a Christian love country music?- but now I’m proud that I resonate with country music. I don’t know when it happened- maybe it was just me perusing Grady Smith’s youtube channel (Grady’s a country music reviewer by the way!), or maybe it started with me reviewing Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty in 2018; however over the past few years I have been reviewing a number of country albums. Not just ‘Christian-country’ like Rhett Walker Band and Zach Williams… but ‘country-country’. Take a read of these reviews we have posted recently- these big names. Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty, Maren Morris’s GIRL, Lauren Alaina’s Getting Good and Getting Over Him, The McClymonts’ Mayhem To Madness, Lady A’s Ocean, Kelsea Ballerini’s kelsea and ballerini, Gabby Barrett’s Goldmine, Lindsay Ell’s heart theory, Jimmie Allen’s Bettie James, Carly Pearce’s self-titled album, Keith Urban’s THE SPEED OF NOW PT 1, Rascal Flatt’s How They Remember You EP, Maddie & Tae’s The Way It Feels, Caylee Hammack’s If It Wasn’t For You, Cassadee Pope’s Rise And Shine, Mickey Guyton’s Bridges EP, and Little Big Town’s Nightfall. All of these albums, as Jon or myself have reviewed them, have showed me over the past few years that the industry that I originally assumed to be about trucks and beers and cars and drinking and having a good time and girls and more girls… is really not; when you look and listen a bit deeper. In fact, according to Grady’s video about the analysis of key country words… country artists on the whole are a lot more complex than originally thought.
So now that we’ve seen this inspiring video about how we all know now that the common words in country music are somewhat of a myth… now it’s time to default to my new favourite genre once again and review yet another country album! Country albums to me have so much emotion, honesty, and vulnerability- that you can’t help but be moved, inspired, encouraged, brought to tears, and challenged all at the same time. Especially during COVID-19 where we do need some encouragement and reassurance- I firmly believe that country music is one of the main genres (aside from CCM) that delivers to us real, raw and authentic melodies that will stick with us for the foreseeable future. And this album that I’m going to review is no different. Vocally, Tenille Townes can be slightly abrasive and irritating at first listen, however these songs are some of the most hopeful and inspiring that I’ve heard all year. And Tenille’s voice grows on you, believe me. it’s unique and interesting and from left field… and I reckon if you give Tenille’s debut album The Lemonade Stand a chance, I firmly believe that you will be won over and that you’ll be one step closer to a country-fied fan of the genre!
Music is this gift that gives us permission to realise that we are not alone in how we feel and writing music about the true essence of human connection and experience is important. Those stories deserve to be told and deserve to comfort us and that will always be a part of how I write music – to draw from stories or things that I’m witnessing.
I like to write songs from the observer perspective because it gives me space to understand how I feel about something and to have a moment to process that and where I belong in a situation. I like looking at things from a bird’s-eye view. It’s really helpful for me and my own feelings to write and express my thoughts in that way.
That’s my favourite part, the fact that music has this transcendent quality where a song speaks up in different peoples’ lives in different ways. The most powerful thing, when it comes to being in a room with live music, is when everyone is listening to a song and one moment has people playing different movies in their minds, different personal things that a song makes them think of.
Yet, in that moment, we’re all more alike than we ever realise. I love that about a song, that it pushes the walls down and lets us bring our own stories forward so we can go to those harder places and be together. That’s the most mystifying wonderful thing about a song for me
The Lemonade Stand is one of the year’s most confronting yet comforting albums- and one you mustn’t sleep on- taking me by surprise in a good way as I didn’t think much of these songs originally. “Holding Out for the One” is the poppy album opener that on the surface is a cool summer jam with no real lyrical substance- yet a closer analysis reveals Tenille ardently relaying to us that she doesn’t want to go home with men while out at parties- that she’s ‘holding out for the one’. A song with such gusto and weight from the get-go, we are met with the mainstream version of Rebecca St. James’ “Wait For Me”, a declaration of abstinence or at least knowing your boundaries and deciding on your lifelong person and your ‘soulmate’ when you meet them. Although people say that you need to sleep around to know who’s the best person and the best fit, Tenille reminds us that saving yourself for your special someone, though archaic in nature right now, will definitely reap rewards in the end. We’ll be more fulfilled and satisfied, and life will be that much sweeter. In a world that champions promiscuity, it’s nice to hear a song preaching the opposite- chivalry and respect and dignity. Here’s hoping Tenille restarts this wave of more relationship-respectful songs.
The rest of the album shows us Tenille tackling the big questions- sometimes questions not even talked about at all in an artist’s lifetime, let alone in their debut album. “Where You Are” is a mid tempo ballad whereby Tenille passionately relays that she’s so in love with a special someone that ‘…I’d stand in any ticket line, any mountain I would climb, just to find my way to where you are, I would swim across the sea, I would cut down any tree, leave a trail through a forest in the dark, pave a path to get back to where you are…’; while the heartfelt and emotional album highlight “Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)” delves into the dark concept of death, inspired by many deaths in Tenille’s life; and asks God a bunch of questions that all of us would ask when faced with adversity. Even though Tenille doesn’t ascribe to any particular faith or religion, the act of asking these questions to a God she doesn’t really believe in- was healing to her in a way, as the process let all of her emotions and feelings out; and as we hear this song we can tell that it’s one of the ones closest to her heart.
“Lighthouse” keeps the subject matter back to something more palatable, as Tenille fervently relays to us her feelings of devotion and love to those around her especially in times of struggle and trials- her family and her parents possibly?- as she highlights that ‘…I’ll be your candle there in the attic dark, the back porch glow from the moon and stars, I’ll be the firefly in a mason jar, I’ll be a light for you wherever you are…’; while the rocker “White Horse” peels back the assumptions of needing a partner to complete you, and instead lets us know that our identity in is ourselves and not in another person. “I Kept The Roses” ends the first half of the album, whereby Tenille reiterates that she kept the roses from a failed relationship and got rid of everything else. With the roses symbolic of being a reminder that all good things have to come to an end, we are presented with the concept of us needing to do the hard work and cherishing our relationships around us if we want them to last.
The party-infused pop tune “Come As You Are” delivers, and delivers quite well, as Tenille emphatically relays to us that we all don’t need to hide our true selves from the world- we can just be open and transparent and confident as we are, and then our true friends will love us that way; while the jazzy, groovy “The Way You Look Tonight” celebrates a significant other, complementing them on their looks, and also presenting to us such security and certainty in a relationship- something we can all strive for these days. Pop radio-friendly song “Find You” is a companion piece to the pseudo-romantic songs from Tenille like “Where You Are” and “Holding Out For the One”, whereby Tenille speaks about a metaphorical journey to find ‘The One’, the special someone meant for only us. As we groove to the music and tap our toes, “Find You” comforts and reassures us that even if we’re single, that love can be just around the corner if we keep our eyes open.
“Somebody’s Daughter”, probably the most important song on the album, is a mid-tempo rocker that basically encourages us to connect more with people on a soul level to know their story and for them to feel more supported and a little bit less alone (similar in theme to Matthew West’s “My Own Little World”); while the piano prominent ballad “The Most Beautiful Things” delves into the heart of the album- that to truly live you need to open your eyes to the beauty of what is around us, and to remember that the most important things in this life are the relationships- that they’re going to fade away someday so we need to hang onto them while we still can. As Tenille sings about praying and crying and kissing and dreaming in this heartfelt song, we are presented with a song that doesn’t know the answers to life’s questions, but still provides healing and comfort nonetheless. Tenille’s crowning achievement here is the moving and inspiring acoustic guitar led “When I Meet My Maker”. As Tenille wrestles and struggles with her questions to God following the inspiration of “Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)”, and following the death of her great-grandmother, we are met with one of the most vulnerable songs of 2020.
I was at this little rental place [in Nashville] and sitting at this glass coffee table. I’d had a songwriting session that day and had just made some food and sat down and was thinking about home and my great-grandmother who had passed. I just miss her so much…she’d come to all these different concerts and sit in the front row in her lawn chair and drink her cheap Canadian beer. She just was enchanting and the best teddy bear, taking care of everybody, and I miss her.
I just held the pen and listened, and it brought a lot of healing…we didn’t grow up really going to church, other than to weddings and funerals. I always had so many questions [though] and was so curious about it, but I’m really thankful that my upbringing really kind of gave me the space to find my own sort of spiritual relationships … that it was always like it’s something that I got to build from the ground up with my own experiences.
It very much does feel like, for me, the concept of faith and believing God is an everyday sort of conversation in my mind, and in my disbelief of how things work out and unfold. It’s very much sort of in the fabric of the way that I kind of think about things. And It was really important to me, in the sequencing of this album, to let it sort of be that spiritual journey, of making sure that “Jersey on the Wall” came first to kind of know that you can have that wrestle and really just be honest with where you’re at, whether it’s angry or hurt or sad.
When I meet my Maker
At the open golden gates
He’s gonna welcome me home
Where eternity awaits
I’m gonna run into His arms
I’m gonna stare into His eyes
The ones that I’ve been seeking
The ones that never left my side
When I meet my Maker
We’ll walk on Heaven’s boulevard
Up above the clouds
In between the stars
And I’ll ask Him all my questions
And He’ll answer with a smile
I’ll tell Him how I love Him
And I’ll thank Him for my life
Ooh, ooh, ooh
When I meet my Maker
I’m gonna know it’s the right time
‘Cause He’ll have a reason
And I’ll understand why
He’ll tell me that it’s alright
I’ll tell Him how I miss you
He’ll show me how to watch over
From the front row with the perfect view
Ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh
When I meet my Maker
Gonna ask him for some wings
He’ll introduce me to his angels
In the choir, I will sing
He’ll tell me that He’s proud
And I’m probably gonna cry
He’ll take my hand
And together we will fly
Ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh
[The Lemonade Stand] is a different kind of significance at this time for me. I am just so grateful for the way that music has been a piece of a lifeline, a big contribution to my sanity over the last few months. I’ve been listening to so much music and enjoying turning to it in this time so it really does make me happy to know that my music can hopefully be something that people turn to as well and I really am grateful to share these songs.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this album for a little while now and it definitely was different than I had anticipated, but I do believe it is exactly how it was so supposed to be. This collection of songs reflects a big piece of my life and it’s like a window into the way I see the world and stories that I have been really honoured to get to witness and learn from. I am very thankful to be able to share this piece of my heart right now.
It’s been a weird feeling to be honest because I’ve been looking forward to, and working towards, this album for a while now and letting that go is like a sense of freedom and also a sense of loss at the same time. It’s like I’m standing on the edge of something new and I’m so happy to be there and I feel really grateful for this time right now to be creative.
I’ve actually been writing with a lot of people over Zoom. It’s not the same as being in the room together in person but I’m still thankful to be able to be turning to music because it’s been a big part of keeping my sanity right now. I can’t wait to share some of the new songs that I’m writing.
Tenille Townes is someone I would have never thought I’d be listening to- and actually enjoying- in a million years! If you told me I’d be listening to Tenille at the start of this year… well I wouldn’t have laughed in your face as I was listening to a bit of country music here and there- but I would’ve thought that might not have been the case. Well let me proudly say that I’m glad that I’m listening to country music (as opposed to heavily listening to pop- not that it’s a contest or anything!); and for those of you who are not country fans- let me say please listen to this album. Because you will change your mind after The Lemonade Stand. No doubt about it. One of the most underrated albums of the year. So thank you Tenille, for this near-flawless masterpiece- I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next. Full of hope and joy and questions and comfort- The Lemonade Stand has everything for everyone. And I mean that with my whole heart.
3 songs to listen to: Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking), When I Meet My Maker, Somebody’s Daughter
RIYL: Caylee Hammack, Lindsay Ell, Gabby Barrett, Tenille Arts, Maddie & Tae