“So why do we close our eyesWhen we pray, cry, kiss, dream?Maybe the most beautiful things in this lifeAre felt and never seen” —“The Most Beautiful Things”
No matter your musical preference—old country, new country, or no country, Tenille Townes and her album The Lemonade Stand will catch your ear. Tenille Townes is a Canadian country music artist from Grande Prairie, Alberta. After releasing two albums in Canada, she signed to Columbia Records in 2018 and relocated to Nashville. The Lemonade Stand is Townes’ debut major record release, in which she co-wrote each song and worked with producer Jay Joyce (Eric Church, Carrie Underwood, Ashley McBryde). This is a counter-cultural album that reveals the beauty of authentic and other-centered faith.
From the first song we hear Tenille Townes go against common country music themes to speak her view. “Holding Out For the One” rebuffs the many guys she meets who are interested in partying and casual sex. She sings: “Yeah, maybe I'm a little bit different I guess. But I ain't giving my heart to just anyone. I'm holding out for the one.” Many of the love songs on The Lemonade Stand subvert popular culture and its ideas of romance. In “White Horse,” Townes looks for love on a white horse, but it arrives on a dark horse. And many songs simply ignore the topic of romance altogether as Townes is more interested in telling different kinds of stories.
Several songs on The Lemonade Stand explore the experiences of others in a way that reveals Townes’ empathy. “Come As You Are” is an infectious anthem that encourages the value in each person. “Somebody’s Daughter” reflects on the back-story of a homeless person Townes met. In an effort to see them as human, she imagines the life this person might have led.
The source of her love for others quickly becomes clear: her relationship with Jesus Christ. Townes integrates her faith into all she is and does, including her music and lyrics. “The Jersey On The Wall — I’m Just Asking” is a heartfelt, lament-filled conversation with God about the death of a teenager in a car accident. It comes out of Townes’ personal experience as well as others she has met who have suffered similar tragedies. Her faith is gritty, and her questions are raw. At one point Townes observes: “And somewhere there's a mother, who stopped goin' to church/ ’Cause Your plan quit makin' sense down here on Earth.” Later on the album, Townes’ voice creates a vision of her arrival in Heaven. “When I Meet My Maker” reveals a God eager to show his love to each one of his creations. She sings: “He’ll tell me that he’s proud, and I’m probably going to cry.” Townes has the beautiful ability to help the listener experience many of the difficult and beautiful feelings in life.
While the music on the The Lemonade Stand is a catchy eclectic mix of old and new country, what stands out most are the counter-cultural themes of authentic, other-centred faith. Townes will encourage and inspire Christian listeners. Her honesty in prayer is refreshing. Her courage to wait for romantic love is restorative. And her (lemon) zest for a faith-filled life is infectious. No matter what your opinion of country music is, The Lemonade Stand by Tenille Townes will not disappoint you. (Columbia)