Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: April 21st 2023
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Home To Me
- Pieces Of My Heart
- Coming Together
Canadian musicians, especially Canadian country artists, have thrived for quite some time recently. Artists like Shania Twain, Lindsay Ell, Jess Moskaluke, K.D. Lang, Meghan Patrick and Tenille Arts have all had varying degrees of success in both the Canadian and American markets of late, and further extending to just Canadian artists in general, artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, Shawn Mendes, Carly Rae Jepsen, Michael Buble, Matt Maher, Marc Martel and The City Harmonic, are just some of the many Canadians who have been in circulation in music for quite some time over the last decade or two. So, it comes to no surprise that rising country superstar and powerful vocalist, Tenille Townes, also comes from Canada. In fact, her rise to the top has been so exponential and instrumental, that she’s been recognised for various Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs) and Juno Awards within the last few years. Her 2020 album The Lemonade Stand was a critical success, we as a site even reviewed the album here. Birthing singles like ‘Somebody’s Daughter’, ‘Jersey On the Wall’ and ‘When I Meet My Maker’, Tenille’s trademark voice and her enthusiastic passion had made The Lemonade Stand one of 2020’s most unique albums, and one of the best kept secrets (album-wise) for that particular year. 2021 then came around, and we saw Tenille continue to deliver powerful hit singles- for upon the heels of her powerful and emotive July 2021 radio single ‘Girl Who Didn’t Care’, alongside her vulnerable and emotive ‘Villain in Me’ and her relatable and compelling ‘When’s It Gonna Happen?’, came her follow-up project after The Lemonade Stand– Masquerades, a 7 track collection of songs inclusive of the emotive hits ‘Villain in Me’ and ‘When’s It Gonna Happen’; of which we as a site, reviewed here. Masquerades was as heartfelt as they came, with standout songs like ‘Villain in Me’ and ‘When’s It Gonna Happen?’ anchoring the EP both musically and thematically. Following along from Tenille’s emotive and compelling 2022 EP, we saw Tenille offer us more musical offerings, in the form of two singles- ‘The Last Time’ and ‘The Thing That Wrecks You’. Now a few months on from that; we have been blessed to hear some new Tenille Townes material- this time it’s an EP titled Train Track Worktapes.
‘…I was riding on a train across Canada a few months ago. We got on this train for 15 days, from Montreal to Calgary. It was a tour where we played 65 shows. On some days, we’d be playing five or six shows a day. We’d literallly pull up to the town on this train, and one of the train cars was this stage and the door would come down to where a group of people were gathered. It was pretty cold weather (December), and everyone gathered and made donations for local food banks. And I just stood there on the stage, taking in the generosity of the human spirit. I was so blown away by everyone showing up in the freezing cold weather. I was so inspired by this tour and the shows we were playing, that I had to write about it. So, I wrote these songs in between the shows, and we were like, “What would happen if we tried to record these songs while we were out here on the train?” So, we borrowed gear from the stage car and had a couple laptops and figured out how to use what we had here. The suitcase became a kick drum, and we made shakers out of cereal bowls, and we did all kinds of resourceful fun things. The sounds of the train—like the rumbles, the engine, and the rattle of the tracks—were very much the fabric of the music I wanted to capture. So, whoever’s listening could feel like they were sitting beside us on the train…’
Comprising of 5 tracks (inclusive of the cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic, ‘Landslide’), this new Tenille EP is a reminder that you don’t have to wait your typical ‘2-3 years’ to unveil new material. Gone are the days when people wait a little bit to unveil something new- there’s more and more artists releasing new music more frequently…and that, in and of itself, is a good thing. Tenille is one such artist that has managed to release music on a regular basis of late, and this new EP is no exception. Starting off the album with a slight-upbeat song of comfort and hope, we see Tenille jovially declares that even though she believes herself to be ‘a travelling soul’, she still realises and understands that ‘…wherever all these winding paths and railroad tracks may lead, you’ll still be home to me…’ It’s a great reminder in our own lives as well, that even if we may admit to ourselves that we like to explore and travel, to see the sights of the country we live in, or even venture halfway around the world in our lives because of ____, that there’s still a place that is open to us to call home. For we can travel the world, but to call something and somewhere home, is to have a sense of normalcy and familiarity in a world of chaos. ‘Pieces of My Heart’ follows along from Tenille’s first track, and reminds us that at the core of who we are as people, is a sense of hope, joy and wonder as we discover and explore, through the places that we are in, in our lives. Throughout our lives (that consist of ____ amount of years??), we imprint on the places that we have called ‘home’ over the years. We impart to the people that we leave behind (when we travel along to the next place), a sense of passion, enthusiasm, and a zest for life; and ‘Pieces of My Heart’ is a call for us to encourage whoever and whomever we are in contact with, that in being vulnerable and encouraging, we share a piece of our heart with theirs…and the result can be just as fulfilling, as well.
‘Landslide’ comes along at track #3 (and is by far one of my own favourite renditions of the Fleetwood Mac song), while the EP rounds out with ‘Coming Together’ and ‘Wheels’- the former (‘Coming Together’) is a song about being with that one we love and appreciate in life, and to realise that because we have this short life that we have, then we ought to spend it with and around the people we love, because ‘…we’re only here for a little while and who knows what’s around the corner, could be shooting stars, you’ll never know unless you’re looking…I don’t know where we’re going but if I’m going there with you, then it really doesn’t matter…’; whilst ‘Wheels’ is a melody where the persona is in a heightened euphoric state of mind, not wanting to come down, for whatever reason, that ‘…if I could, I’d never stop these wheels from spinning round…’ While it’s not conducive to always be in a perpetual state of ignorant euphoria; the song nevertheless still shows us that there are times in our lives that may require us to be in such a euphoric state, and for us to be prepared, once such a time occurs for us.
So, there you have it, Tenille’s latest EP Train Track Worktapes. 5 songs of vulnerability. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s this observation that I’ve seen in music recently- that vulnerability, humility, heartfelt moments of hope and encouragement, and a sense of storytelling, is seemingly the most seen within country music, but seems to lack a lot in various other musical genres, namely pop and CCM. Sure, there are artists within pop and CCM that convey deep and meaningful music (Ed Sheeran, for KING & COUNTRY, Casting Crowns, Bryan Adams, Goo Goo Dolls, Switchfoot, Echosmith, Mandy Harvey, Tenth Avenue North, needtobreathe, Skillet, Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian and Lifehouse, to name a few), but all in all, pop and CCM (in its current state) isn’t that well known now for music that is poignant and heartfelt. So, it’s great to hear songs by Tenille that portray vulnerability in a favourable light, because it is. Being vulnerable means being relatable to the listeners and audience that you have. Something relatable means something impactful, and maybe even influential, to someone’s life. And over the years, Tenille has become just that- influential. Her music of late has crept into people’s homes and impacted people’s lives, and while she unfortunately misses out on the top 50 impactful and influential artists of now and the upcoming years ahead (but does receive an honourable mention though); the fact of the matter still remains. That Tenille’s work still strikes a chord with listeners, and this EP of 5 songs is no different. Well done Tenille for Train Track Worktapes. Looking forward to seeing how God uses these melodies, in the upcoming months ahead. Maybe a full-length album follow-up to The Lemonade Stand in the future? Hopefully.
3 songs to listen to: Pieces of My Heart, Coming Together, Home To Me
RIYL: Tenille Arts, Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell, Mickey Guyton, The Shires