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On her award-winning Columbia Nashville/RCA Records debut, The Lemonade Stand, Tenille Townes established herself as a keen observer, a songwriter who could illuminate the human condition and share universal truths with heartfelt insight. For her new music set to release in 2021, the gifted singer/songwriter goes even deeper with relatable new songs that are exceptionally vulnerable and authentic.
“I still love writing songs from the observer’s perspective,” Townes says, “but the time I’ve spent writing and reflecting this past year, has challenged me to dig further into my own emotions. This new season of music feels like it’s coming from a more personal place. I love thinking about how the music knows where it’s taking me. I trust it. Even in this new, more vulnerable place.”
A native of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, Townes has amassed numerous accolades including being named the 2020 ACM Awards New Female Artist of the Year, 2020 ACM Musical Event of the Year, and then to top off her breakout year, Townes’ debut album The Lemonade Stand won the 2021 JUNO Award for Country Album of the Year.
“Spending time on the road through that record and that season was so helpful in really focusing my energy on this new season of music and thinking about how I want these new songs to feel in a live show. I was thinking about the arc of a set and the emotional ride that I want to be able to bring people on and the invitation from the stage to make everybody feel welcome with arms wide open,” says Townes, who has toured with Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Little Big Town, and is heading out with Brothers Osborne this year.
While quarantining in her Nashville home during the pandemic, Townes wrote over 150 new songs. “Being able to write songs this past year has been my piece of sanity,” she says. “Music has always been my safe place and it has really taken on a whole new meaning for me this past year. Writing songs was the one thing that I could do and put energy towards and I’m grateful for that time. It was like an escape for me, to be able to craft the next things that I want to say.”
Her first new release, “Girl Who Didn’t Care” was inspired by walks Townes took in her neighborhood during the pandemic. “I love running into different neighbor kids on my street, looking at sidewalk art and just little moments of being able to capture the wonder and the way that they see the world,” she shares. “The ability to have love in their heart for anybody, not afraid of failing or not being good enough. Something happens to all of us at some point when we start noticing the cracks”, she continues. “It’s a powerful reminder to me of my past that’s brought me to this point and that fearless kid that I was. I really do feel like I have that kid and her courage to thank for bringing me to this place. This song came from that place of reflection.”
Townes views this past season as a breaking point in her life, and she solidifies those feelings on “The Break.” “It definitely feels like a thematic anchor for the new songs because it’s like being able to let something come apart and break,” she says. “I’m obsessed with the Leonard Cohen quote that talks about how 'there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ We don’t only get to have the highs and be in the sunlight. The reason we feel hope when we look at a sunrise is because it’s lifting the darkness. A promise that it will continue to rise and fall. This past year of reflection and just sort of looking around at the world and myself and thinking about what I want to say in this new music, it felt like that quote was a really important part of it and this song was always one that I wanted to be able to share. I love getting to sing this song. It’s got such an energy to it. I’m really excited to play it live.”
“The Last Time” was inspired by a conversation with her aunt. “We were talking about how her youngest, my cousin, started driving himself to school,” Townes recalls. “He’s 16 and she was like, ‘I just can’t believe it. It hit me that I don’t really remember what the last day was that I dropped him off because he just started driving and I didn’t recognize it as a thing.’ The conversation really got my wheels turning, thinking about it and now this song has taken on a different meaning for me this past year. I’ve been worrying about my family and thinking about how so many people around the world have lost loved ones. It was a reminder that time is not promised, and this past year has been like ‘Wow! We really have to make every single minute that we’re given count.’”
Townes’ sweet, hopeful voice is particularly vulnerable on “When’s It Gonna Happen to Me.” “This song terrifies me because it feels extremely true and personal,” Townes says of sharing the confessional song. “To continue being honest and sharing this truth is something I haven’t really been comfortable talking about up to this point, but music is my safe place and I want to be the room I can bring any emotion to and know the door is always wide open in acceptance of whatever that might be.” Townes continues, “Society tells us what our picture should look like. Every fairytale we read growing up, every movie we watch all form this idea in our minds of what our life should be. I’ve never been in the kind of love those pictures paint and I’m learning that I’d rather paint my own picture. Life is so much bigger than the frame we try to stick it in.”
“It’s definitely coming from the raw place that I’m at and this one really does scare me the most,” she sighs. “I like imagining a heart like a house and you’re walking through all the different rooms. This one is a scary room to me. I really do want to crack the door open and let some light in. Hopefully when people hear it, they’ll imagine the same door opening a little bit for themselves too.”
As the world slowly returns to normal, Townes is excited about returning to the stage and reconnecting with audiences. “I couldn’t be more excited to start this adventure and to get to share these songs,” she says. “I’m feeling so thrilled for this new chapter and can’t wait to get out on the road. It does feel like kind of turning the next page. I hope people feel the way it’s a bit more personal, and feel the invitation for it to become more personal to them too. Thinking about somebody out there listening, and feeling like they aren’t alone, is always at the front of my heart when creating music. It’s what matters the most to me.”