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EP REVIEW: Tenille Townes – “Masquerades”

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Tenille Townes

Today sees the release of Tenille Townes’ brand new EP, Masquerades, the follow-up to her 2020 album, The Lemonade Stand. Fresh from her acclaimed performances at Country2Country last month, Tenille bares her soul in this 7-song collection, which is a definitive shift in style from her past material and will delight fans of her open-book lyricism.

Gone is the extravagant production of The Lemonade Stand. It’s been replaced by a stripped-back sound that showcases the true depth and vulnerability of both Tenille’s song writing and performance. This feels like a milestone moment in her career where she’s whole-heartedly honed in on what makes her shine as an artist, and the Masquerades EP has all of that in abundance. Evolution in motion.

The EP kicks off with the atmospheric collaboration with Wrabel, “When You Need It,” addressing the vulnerabilities and insecurities we all feel at times and sending a message to those struggling with mental health that “You don’t have to say you are fine… When you’ve made it through one bad night, you can make it through a million.” Powerful lyricism on a tricky topic to approach, and one that many listeners will take heart and belief from.

From then on, there’s a shift towards Tenille’s internal feelings, starting with the radio-ready “When’s It Gonna Happen,” an admission of feeling like “the last one standing” and wanting to find that special someone to share life’s joys with, whilst watching everyone else “falling in love”. This has already become a big fan favourite, and sounded awesome at The O2 a few weeks back. Anthemic, yet a little dark at the same time.

The middle section of the EP is where things really start getting deep. “The Sound Of Being Alone” is written from the perspective of someone in the depths of despair and the height of loneliness, and the production is just about as calamitous as can be, in an artistic sense! “Villain In Me” follows in a similar, although more introspective vein, and Tenille describes it as the most personal song she’s ever written:

“I’ve come to know the Villain in my head very well over this past year and a bit. The lonely time at home forced me to sit in the uncomfortable and vulnerable emotions and this song is a safe place for me to be open about it. It’s not something I like to talk about but writing and singing about it makes it easier.”

Tenille’s greatest gift is her ability to transport the listener to a completely different world for a few minutes, and this EP is a fine example of that. “Shared Walls,” her collaboration with fellow C2C performer BRELAND, is a moment of sheer lyrical excellence, telling the tale of someone living in a block of apartments, who feels like she goes through the same life problems as her neighbours, even though they’re total strangers. One of those songs that many of us will have lived out, and it makes you think about that scenario in a whole new way.

“We share walls, we share feelings, Nights alone, staring at the ceiling, We might act like strangers on the street, But I know a lot about you, You know a lot about me”

Tenille saves the best till last with the glorious “Light In Your Eyes,” leaving us on a more uplifting, optimistic note. An almost Eagles-like toe-tapper (reminiscent of “No More Cloudy Days” for any Long Road Out Of Eden fans), this is right up there with the best Tenille has released to date; a beautifully written track with a stunningly simplistic cruising melody. One of those roll-your-windows-down summer tracks that just gets better with every listen.

Tenille Townes really is one of the most exciting all-rounders on the scene right now. From the sheer bravery of her writing, to her totally unique vocal delivery, to her electric stage presence, she truly has everything going for her, and the Masquerades EP is the sign of an artist at the top of their game from start to finish. A work of art.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dan Wharton

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