Tenille Townes – ‘Masquerades’ EP Review – Entertainment Focus
Fresh off of his triumphant appearance with his full band on the main stage at this year’s C2C festival shows in London, Dublin and Glasgow, Tenille Townes is further cementing his growing reputation as a truly valuable artist by launching his new project, a seven-track EP titled ‘Mascarades’.
Previous projects, like his introductory release “Worktapes” and 2020’s debut album, “The Lemonade Stand,” have given us a glimpse of the power of Townes’ songwriting. Songs like “Jersey on the Wall” and “Somebody’s Daughter” have an emotional weight that many writers never quite achieve, but they were written in the third person, telling stories about people and characters from around the world. Townes world. The evolution of her, both as a writer and an artist, on the new version of ‘Masquerades’ comes with Townes delving into her own vulnerability and telling all of us as listeners and watchers what she thinks. of her life and where she is right now.
There is a raw and painful honesty in whole sections of “masquerade”. “When It’s Gonna Happen” is an open and vulnerable story of nostalgia as Townes expresses her frustration at not having found her soul mate yet as she reaches an age where everyone around her begins to couple and bond. marry. “I can’t be the only one thinking when this is going to happen?” she asks on a song filled with piano flourishes and a kind of “Somebody’s Daughter” swagger. I saw her perform this song from the main stage of the O2 arena in London recently and I can say that it suits her incredibly well.
The duality of Tenille Townes deserves a mention, here, in its own right. She has already wowed UK crowds by performing in intimate venues with just her guitar. Man, that voice and the emotion that she puts into her ‘Worktapes’ persona is something rare but on a big stage, something else, something bigger and rockier takes over. she and she becomes a possessed woman! Hair flying, guitar arms spinning in circles, Townes is able to channel his inner Joan Jett and rock with the best of them. A song like ‘When’s It Gonna Happen’ is perfect for this environment while other songs from ‘Masquerades’, like ‘Villain in Me’ and ‘Light In Your Eyes’ will work best for smaller venues and intimate performances. The first, a raw and evocative acoustic song, sees Townes exploring self-loathing and self-sabotage in a brutal way, singing things like “the long list of things about me that I want to change”. “Light in Your Eyes,” meanwhile, is a relaxing, melodic track influenced by artists like Fleetwood Mac and the Laurel Canyon artists of the 1970s. Delicious Eagles-style backing vocals permeate the backing vocals as Townes sings on highways and western skies.
Alongside “When’s It Gonna Happen”, Townes gives us a second arena rock song in the form of the terrific “Same Road Home”. This track is a great radio anthem song, driven by explosive drums and AOR-leaning “Life is a Highway” style guitars. The lyrics are inclusively ambiguous, which is the mark of a great writer, one who can write something meaningful that will appeal to a wide audience. “Aren’t we all looking for answers,” she sings, backed by arena-sized “Woh oh” choruses and an 80s Springsteen vibe. I can’t wait to see the one played with the full band when Townes return to the UK for their first headlining tour in October this year.
Two final songs complete ‘Masquerades’ and both songs, ‘When You Need It’ and ‘Shared Walls’ also feature guest artists! The first features Wrabel, a singer-songwriter famous for his 2017 hit, “The Village,” which was dedicated to transgender people. Townes echoes the sentiment here, “You don’t have to say you’re okay,” she says, delving into the heart of the mental health issues and insecurities we all share about ourselves. “When you’ve been through a bad night, you can go through a million,” she sings on this melodic, mid-tempo song with pop-leaning production values and a whole lot of heart.
“Shared Walls,” meanwhile, features Breland, who the UK recently fell in love with thanks to her talent and enthusiasm during her performances in London at the C2C festival in March. ‘Last night I heard you crying through the floor…..maybe we’re going through the same thing? Townes asks a neighbor on this anthem song which has a clever and lyrical concept of people all living in apartments on top of each other but remaining strangers. The song builds steadily throughout and Townes and Breland harmonize perfectly as the tension and volume increase! An explosive ending means “Shared Walls” will be an epic song in Townes’ live set, but let’s not ignore the fact that the lyrics hit with as much gravity and emotional resonance as anything she’s ever written.
The beauty of ‘Masquerades’ is that the songs on the EP have a duality, similar to Townes herself. They can be played in small, intimate venues with just an acoustic guitar and a Canadian with some of the most soulful vocals in the industry or they can be loud rock songs that will have you dancing, singing and thinking at the same time. There is an originality and vibrancy to Townes’ work that is elusive and rare to find, it should be cherished and protected by those in the industry around her. She has the ability to make you dance, sing, and cry to the full range of a single version. Tenille Version 2 is an upgrade, an improvement over what came before and it was already something quite special to begin with. Thank God, she let us see behind her ‘Masquerade’, her artistic talent and her know-how are all the stronger for it.
Track list: 1. When You Need It (with Wrabel) 2. When’s It Gonna Happen 3. The Sound of Being Alone 4. Villain In Me 5. Shared Walls (with BRELAND) 6. Same Road Home 7. Light In Your Eyes / Record company: Columbia Nashville / Sony Music Nashville Buy ‘Masquerades’ here