The Lemonade Stand
One Foot Firmly in the Ghost of Country Past; The Other In The Future!
Yes, country music and pop music are still getting blurred together nowadays, most often with mixed results. Now, I’m not going to argue the pros or cons of either, that starts to get a little bit into that “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” mentality, and reminds me of the arguments I’d have with co-workers about new bands: “That ain’t rock ‘n’ roll!” they’d say and go back to listening to Journey or Styx while I’d slip a New York Dolls cassette into my Walkman and go hide in the back of the file room.
Everything—especially music—is relative to one’s own likes, prejudices and experiences.
So, now that’s outta the way, and we can get to the matter at hand: the debut album by Tenille Townes, originally from Canada, now based in Nashville, USA, home of much of America’s (and the world’s) popular music. Townes has assembled twelve songs on this album, called The Lemonade Stand, with production from Jay Joyce, who’s worked with Emmylou Harris, Little Big Town, Patti Griffin, and many others.
The album as a whole has a punchy, modern pop sound, but still manages to keep its country roots firmly in place. The lead off track “Jersey on the Wall (I’m Just Asking),” is ‘oven ready’ for radio, as is “Holding Out for the One,” and “White Horse,” but it’s the song “Somebody’s Daughter” that is the standout single here for me; as there’s plenty of songs out there about relationships, but not enough about our relationship with people from a less privileged stratum of society. Not that this alone gives it a reason to be listened to—this is pop music after all, we need something to sing along with, a good beat to latch onto, a catchy melody amidst all those words—and Townes makes this one work well despite the heaviness of what could be such a sensitive subject matter.
“With the shaky hands
On the cardboard sign
And she’s lookin’ at me“
tells me that Townes is no one trick show pony, and to follow that later with:
“Now this light’ll turn green and I’ll hand her a couple dollars
And I’ll wonder if she got lost or they forgot her
She’s somebody’s daughter,”
tells me she’s in it for the long haul, not just writing and singing dance pop fluff.
As for what passes today as Modern Country, this song rocks honestly and makes you think.
This one is timely, for sure, but also timeless, and that’s where it really hits home.
My other favorite on this album is the charming “I Kept the Roses,” which reminds me a little bit of Tywanna Jo Baskette (who’s been missing in action for way too long.)
This is the tune here with the most character. One foot firmly in the ghost of Country music past, the other unafraid to stand out and be different. Townes’ voice is perfect for this sort of song—I’m hoping for more of this on her next album.
Review courtesy The Legendary Roy Peak esq.
Released 26th June 2020