Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: November 5th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Villain in Me
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, 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 couple of 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. Now we fast-forward to the end of 2021, and upon the heels of her powerful and emotive July radio single ‘Girl Who Didn’t Care’ (that was one of my favourite songs of 2021 thus far, and a track that we as a site reviewed), we see Tenille deliver another emotive and poignant track for us all to hear- ‘Villain in Me’. If the next few songs from Tenille (that will probably make up album #2 for Tenille in the future) are just as compelling as both ‘Villain in Me’ and ‘Girl Who Didn’t Care’; then this next musical offering from Tenille (coming TBA 2022) is sure to be one of next year’s most anticipated, and album album that will certainly propel Tenille to new heights in the upcoming year ahead!
Standing at a bit over 3 and a half minutes, we see Tenille offer up an acoustic guitar riff and personal lyrics as we see vulnerability take centre stage…and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, indeed. For too long have songs danced around issues because it was seen to be taboo in songs for feelings to be shown- in particular, being vulnerable and admitting through song that you don’t have it all together as you seem to portray. ‘Villain in Me’ allows listeners to see that Tenille struggles with things that everyday people seem to do, and even us listeners struggle with, as well. And the chorus seems to hit home, allowing us to relate to Tenille as she voices that ‘…the voice that I don’t wanna hear, the hurtful words I say, the long list of things about myself I wanna change, the heavy cloud that won’t leave even after it rains, I try to be a hero ’til it brings me to my knees, yeah, there’s a villain in me…’ More often than not, we want to hide the fact away that there are things within us that are as capable of doing villainous things, as there are things inside us capable of doing heroic things. There are parts of us that we want to hide away, and then there are parts of us that we celebrate. And yet we hide the things away that we deem to be ‘not worthy enough’ or even not ‘inspirational’ enough. We hide things away because we believe what we have to offer isn’t what people want to see. But sometimes even the ‘villainous’ things about us that seem to shame and bury us deep, are nevertheless things about us that we have conquered in our lives before; and will do again. For when we become honest and unveil that we do struggle with things in our lives that we want to be rid of, it makes us be much more relatable to the people that are dealing with similar struggles to us. And others can open up and share that they also have these things inside of them as well, and people won’t feel as alone as they think they are.
‘Villain in Me’ isn’t a song solely about the acknowledgement of the darkness inside of us- it is, but that isn’t the initial point of it all. The song first comes as a reminder that yes, there are villainous things inside of me, and yes, I do have to acknowledge that there are things within my very being and soul that long to undertake dangerous and treacherous things…but that just reminds me of how much in need of a Saviour, I am. ‘Villain in Me’ is a great reminder of my own sin, but it doesn’t stop there. Knowing my sin, should spur me on to long for a Saviour, and as I have mentioned countless times on this site before, I know my Saviour is in Christ Jesus. And if a song by Tenille can evoke a reminder like this, then I’m sure God Himself was in the process of writing this song together with Tenille…right? ‘Villain in Me’ reminds me of Romans 7:13-25, and how Paul spoke of how he longs to do the right thing, but sin keeps him from undertaking what he knows to be right, and true and good. Tenille’s song can hopefully be a lifeline to many who may be struggling from feeling like they have let people down by what they have done in the past (or what they’ll continue to do in the future)- ‘Villain in Me’ reminds us that we are not alone in this thing called ‘sin’ that we’re all dealing with; and whether we call it ‘sin’ for what it is, or even call it ‘demons’, ‘inner ghosts’, ‘things inside us’, ‘spirits’ or even ‘wickedness’ and ‘evil’; we still have to deal with it. A song that has become a great way of dialoguing about this thing inside us that we all have to acknowledge is there, but really see if we want this ‘villain’ around in our lives anymore; this is a great song to start off the journey of Tenille towards her next album (alongside her July upbeat single, ‘Girl Who Didn’t Care’). Well done Tenille for this powerful and compelling song, can’t for the new album, whenever that may arise!
‘…did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin…’
Romans 7: 13-25 (ESV)
‘…sometimes I sit and wonder what the world would be like if nobody hid behind a mask. Or carried around the copious burdens of society telling us what we should be. How we should be. How we shouldn’t be. ‘Villian in Me’ is about the part of us that we don’t want anybody else to see. We dress it up in silver linings with a beautiful masquerade and we never let it see the light of day. But what if there’s another way. what if we pull up a chair and let our darker self sit down a minute. What if we even learn how to show it the compassion and kindness we never hesitate to show somebody else. When I wrote this song I felt like I was pulling up that chair. It was a painful wrestle to do it. Still is. But it is my greatest hope when you listen that you feel comforted to know that all the parts of you are worth loving. I’m learning how to understand that for myself so I figure we might as well walk through it together…’
RIYL: Tenille Arts, Caylee Hammack, Lindsay Ell, Maren Morris, Carly Pearce