ALBUM REVIEW: Tenille Arts – ‘Love, Heartbreak, & Everything In Between’

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We started the year with an album release from a Canadian Country music artist who is now firmly based in Nashville, Brett Kissel. Our attention now turns to another Canadian native, Tenille Arts, who was born and raised in Saskatchewan but moved to Music City in 2015.

She’s signed to Revivor Records, and the release of this album is the first of that association, but is officially the follow-up to her 2017 album ‘Rebel Child’. The association with Revivor appears to be hugely beneficial in raising her profile. Appearances at the Ryman, her Opry debut last September, and a slot on the Today Show on 21st January which is potentially career-changing for an emerging artist.

We all know, however, that marketing and placement will only have sustainable benefits if the product is viable. All of that falls away if the material isn’t up to scratch. We can say without reservation that ‘Love, Heartbreak, & Everything In Between’ passes that quality test.

There is a tendency to pigeon-hole artists into a defined branch of the metaphorical tree that is country music. The opening track on the album, ‘Somebody Like That’, is firmly rooted in the pop-country/radio-friendly camp. It’s the most-added song this week on country radio, she performed it recently on US TV’s ‘The Batchelor’, and she will be performing this song on her upcoming Today Show appearance. It’s engaging, catchy and exudes a confident vibe that will captivate those who listen to the radio. However, there is much more to Tenille Arts, and this album will appeal to a broader listening demographic.

The album title gives little doubt to the subject matter. We are given an insight into her recent emotional rollercoaster, reflecting upon the anguish of a failed relationship and the joy of a new one. Not forgetting the scope offered by the additional term ‘in between’, which allows her, in the opening track, to describe the type of partner she considers to be the “real thing”.

There is a depth to Tenille Arts’ songs that extend beyond the formula coveted by syndicated country radio. Insightful lyrics, sharp production and the trait that we covet, the ability to tell a story, which are all displayed across the collection.

‘Slow It Down’ describes the emotions of new love but tempered with an intention for it to be savoured and cherished. It’s done with a compelling, swaying vibe that will be hugely welcomed at her live shows.

‘Wild Love’ is solidly country, twangy and expressive. It emphases and enhances the instrumentation without overshadowing her impressive vocals. Great song.

Tenille has had a hand in writing or co-writing all of the songs on the album. ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is very much within the ‘love’ section of the album. She met her current partner in a Nashville bar, where he was bartending. “Out of the blue I found you when I wasn’t even looking”.  

Ok, the electric drums that drill the beat, particularly in the opening to the song, are present, but let’s not overlook the fact that this is an artist who is striving for mainstream acceptance and praise yet isn’t pandering to the gallery.

‘I Hate This’ is where the ‘heartbreak’ phase of the relationship commences. And we are dealing with two separate guys! The pitfalls of dating a country songwriter…

‘Nothing To See Here’ is a huge highlight. The remnants of a failed relationship where the heart is very much on the sleeve, and which offers the listener the opportunity to feel the pain and hurt at its most extreme.

The melancholy continues with her lowest emotional point, described graphically in the piano-driven, heartfelt ballad ‘Another Life’. “I don’t want to kiss anybody else’s lips. I don’t want to feel anyone else’s touch”

The consistently high quality of the songwriting ensures an immersive experience throughout the 12 songs offered.‘Right Guy Wrong Time’ is a reflective synopsis of the ending of a relationship constructed after a period of consideration. ‘Call You Names’ should be the anthem to every formerly wayward child wishing reconciliation with their parents. This one should hit a few heart strings.

Tenille gets very sassy with ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Know’, before closing out the album with ‘Everybody Knows Everybody’, which is a definite contender for her next radio single.

It might be the very early in 2020 right now, but we may already have heard a contender for our top 10 year-end best-of albums list. She has released an album that will resonate with many across the country music divide. A masterclass in musical diversity and emotive song writing and thoroughly recommended.

Graham Wharton

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