Country Jukebox Jury EPs: Chayce Beckham and Tenille Townes

Chayce Beckham – Doin’ It Right EP

In the modern fashion, Chayce Beckham comes to market with a six-track EP rather than a full album. He was introduced to us on American Idol, a humble forklift operative with a voice that has what Aaron Watson would call commercial appeal. He’s already sent a song with Lindsay Ell to radio, which is a perfectly fine Country Duet that fits in with the current trend.

Chayce, whose voice possesses the same grit as Tim McGraw, has had fast-track access to some top Music Row writers. Ross Copperman produced five of the six tracks and co-wrote both the fist-pumping and euphoric Love To Burn and Tell Me Twice. That song has Chayce taking on board advice and experience, ‘taking time off with the ones you love’ and going to church and drinking beer, wanting to ‘hold on tight’ and ‘walk the line like Johnny said’ (if Johnny got royalties every time he was namechecked…).

Ben Hayslip was in the room for Where The River Goes, one of those songs about moving from A to B with a silky melody. I’ll Take The Bar is a solo write from Jordan Walker, formerly of the duo Walker McGuire. Priscilla Block claims ‘this is my bar’ on her new single, and this is a similar idea set to a middle-of-the-road, very Ross Copperman-patented backing track.

Shires producer Lindsay Rimes and Dustin Lynch’s pal Andy Albert helped Chayce with the EP’s title track, which unsurprisingly sounds like a DL tune and has Chayce boasting about the sights and sounds of California. ‘You ain’t doin’ it right’ if you don’t do a mass of rural stuff hymned in the chorus: ‘take in a back porch firefly sunset…slide on Neon Moon’ when you’ve got the radio on. If Brooks & Dunn got royalties etc etc.

Talk To Me was from the superb trio Hillary Lindsey, Will Hoge and Tom Douglas, who put it on a shelf ready to be cut by A Recording Artist. It’s an adult contemporary triple-time country tune that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it sure sounds smooth: ‘this hotel TV ain’t no good company’ is a line full of yearning as Chayce seems to be keen to close the distance between him and his beloved.

Ross has done well shaping the sound of both Dierks Bentley and Brett Eldredge; fans of both of those guys will find something to enjoy in this EP. The production is warm but the song choices remind me of another TV star, Laine Hardy, whose songs were at pains to show him as a Country Guy. He even had one called Authentic.

Chayce is out with Jimmie Allen and will go out with Luke Combs later in the year to warm up Combsheads, an opportunity which comes from being signed to Wheelhouse Records, who probably have more money than they know what to do with these days. They’ve got plans for Chayce Beckham and they’ll make him a star.

Tenille Townes – Masquerades EP

One of Canada’s most successful country exports, Tenille has had two number ones on Canada’s country charts and was named Female Artist of the Year 2020 and 2021 at the CCMAs. Tenille seems like a lovely woman who is doing what she loves while also giving back philanthropically. She also stepped in for Runaway June when their line-up change kyboshed their appearance at C2C.

Impact track When’s It Gona Happen was one of the two tracks she played from the new EP, which arrives two years after debut album The Lemonade Stand; with a massive chorus, Tenille sings of her fears of not falling in love with someone, feeling like ‘the last one standing’. This will resonate with many listeners, some of whom will be at the Scala in London when she returns to the UK for a tour in October.

‘Hey, what a time to be alive!’ is the opening line of the EP’s opening track When You Need It which includes pop songwriter Wrabel. The fluttering chorus of the song, about companionship and ‘holding space’ (which I learned recently means being there for someone) reminds me of Cam; like her, Tenille veers towards pop production and there’s some pretty acoustic guitar to underscore the pair of voices.

The hopeful Villain In Me is perfect for a writer’s round: the second verse – ‘you only see me laughing, sunshine and endless smiling’ worn as a mask because ‘it’s easier that way’ – breaks into a contemplative middle eight. It explains the title of the EP. The song doesn’t fit on country radio, which is still all ‘hey baby’ and ‘let’s get drunk’. Tenille, who was so young when she came to Nashville that her parents drove her down, is on track to become a songwriter’s songwriter in the Lori McKenna vein.

There aren’t many songs about next-door neighbours in country music. On Shared Walls, Tenille sympathises with a guy who may be ‘going through the same thing’ as her. The guy’s character is played by Breland in another super guest appearance for a man who is gently being introduced to country fans and just topped the charts with a verse of Beers On Me.

The Sound of Being Alone has a great groove over which Tenille wonders what is distressing her. The vocal is right up front in the mix and the production does it justice. Same Road Home is a Mumford-y stomper with a great beat and lyrics about ‘broken dreamers’, ‘looking for answers’ and yearning for connection. I could predict the ‘woah’ section from the opening bar. The EP ends with Light In Your Eyes, not the Sheryl Crow power-pop classic (Tenille covers Sheryl’s song Steve McQueen live) but a bass-driven tune which is obviously inspired by Fleetwood Mac. Tenille seems to have found someone to journey on that same road home with.

There’s so much class on this EP, which will be on repeat for months.

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