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REVIEW: Heading to “The Lemonade Stand” with Tenille Townes for her delightful debut album

There is something very special about the first time you see Tenille Townes on stage. What that exactly is about the 26 year Canadian from Grande Prairie in Alberta is very hard to pinpoint because there is so much magic and warmth that really does create a unique x-factor from her unforgettable voice, the way she is so captivating to watch as she plays guitar so beautifully along with her charm and passion as she has delivers such reflective and relatable stories.

The way she tells these tales through her lyrics is so powerful and a real reflection of how to captivate an audience by just being a great storyteller which has emotive power that you see in so few performers. The raw stripped back nature of songs being just a great story and what country music really is, the questions we all ask everyday, the thoughts and experiences we all encounter is seen at it’s finest when you get to witness Eric Church stood alone on stage with his guitar. The Chief has so many anthemic tracks that are known far and wide as he sells out stadiums the world over but the real magic comes when he takes the songs back to it’s pure base and just simply becomes a captivating storyteller. This is exactly the same spell that Townes has the ability to conjure.

The comparison to Eric Church is not by chance as all 6 of his albums were produced by Jay Joyce and it is that same man that you find his imprint all over “The Lemonade Stand” as he also sits in the production chair for Townes debut album. As an initial reaction to the way Tenille tells her stories so beautifully with elegance and simplicity you questioned do these songs need a larger production element? Would the songs change from how you expect them to sound? Could it detract from the magic? It is not a case of what can Joyce do to enhance these works of beauty but simply he is the only person that could achieve this level of splendour whist still retaining the raw emotive power of how Townes deliver her honest and reflective stories.

The theme of telling stories is very strong through the record, the whole thing pieces together. It is not simply 12 songs put together but a collection of chapters where each is essential for painting the bigger picture. As an occurrence we are beginning to see more and more for releases from Music City “The Lemonade Stand” had an introduction with an initial EP (The Road to The Lemonade Stand) being released in February that gave an early taste of what was to come. This prequel (which you can read our review HERE) as we could call it, was also produced by Joyce and offers 5 of this albums 12 tracks along with a cover of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” as a great introduction to the extended project but still keeping the majority of the aces up her sleeve as 4 of the 5 had been previously released as singles.

The opening track on the EP also acts as the curtain raiser for “The Lemonade Stand” and “Holding Out For The One” was the first real glimpse of what was in store and the extra dimension that Jay Joyce production brings to the table! This really sets the tone for the record superbly as it is a very strong example of the 2 most evident themes on the record: strong, honest, relatable and reflective storytelling combined with a real creative melody that has a retro feel being brought up to date with a sun-kissed feel incorporating strong vibes of past decades and effective, dynamic use of synth. The track also shows you a lot more about her personality and has a more fun and uptempo feel compared to the more reflective “Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)” or debut single “Somebody’s Daughter” which are both so powerful and poignant stories that encourage you to think about the world.

Photo Credit: Matthew Berinato

There are a couple of out and out ballads: “I Kept The Roses” which was one of the tracks for the EP, “The Most Beautiful Things” which was recently released prior to the album being shared and the absolutely beautiful “When I Meet My Maker” which continues the reflective and powerful ideas in her songs and really highlights the soul in her vocals. This is one of the 6 unreleased tracks on the record but has a very different feel to the others which fans will be hearing for the first time.

The real retro being brought up to date that is so perfect for “Holding Out For The One” continues through the record and is what makes this project so magical because it really enhances the stories and gives them more impact by creating a summer evening sunset vibe where you hear sounds familiar from the 70’s on a really funky side yet combined with lovable 90’s pop infused hooks in “Come As You Are” which is the song I think will have the best effect live with a full band, through aspects of 80’s classic rock then brought right up to date with the track I have been listening to over and over and over again as the strong R&B feel to “Find You” is so fresh bringing such an exciting and contemporary feel that would be the most commercially friendly on this side of the Atlantic and needs to be on everyone’s summer playlists.

This retro pop feel of the slick melodies is also very evident and effective in “The Way You Look Tonight” which has a real west coast sunset feel and features as a duet with her long time friend and collaborator Keelan Donovan where their voices intertwine and harmonise perfectly for this track. Donovan (who Lucie Silvas fans may be familiar with as he was a co-writer on “My Old Habits” along with “Change My Mind” which Tenille was also involved in creating, from her E.G.O. album) also collaborated with Townes as one of the writers for the albums second track “Where You Are” which had previously been released acoustically on her Living Room Worktapes. This is the track I had to listen to a few times to fully get. Since I first discovered Tenille, this has always been my favourite song of hers, I love the lyrics and always marvelled at how she made it seem so simple but the album version sounds so different to how I expected it to so you are almost in shock initially. If you have heard this track live or on the other EP, this is the most intriguing as it has a really strong Americana rather than country feel with even has a small hint of calypso in the melody but it really works so well.

This is a prime example of what Jay Joyce does and the scope of magic he pulls in. It is taking a powerful story and exploring the best way to almost visualise something that you cannot see, for being heard as a recording rather than witnessing on stage. That is why “The Lemonade Stand” as a record is a true masterpiece! It combines Tenille’s mesmerising voice and beautifully reflective storytelling with the ingenious creativity of Joyce to deliver one of the finest releases of the year that incorporates so much influence to share one of the most exciting and authentic examples of country music today.

THE LEMONADE STAND TRACK LIST:

  1. “Holding Out For The One”
  2. “Where You Are”
  3. “Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking)”
  4. “Lighthouse”
  5. “White Horse”
  6. “I Kept The Roses”
  7. “When I Meet My Maker”
  8. “Come As you Are”
  9. “The Way You Look Tonight”
  10. “Find You”
  11. “Somebody’s Daughter”
  12. “The Most Beautiful Things”

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