Mitchell Tenpenny Learned the Hard Country Truth From a Songwriting Legend
Mitchell Tenpenny's new album is heavy in more ways than one. At 20-songs, This Is the Heavy is a massive release. Lyrically, there's enough heartbreak to label it as "heavy" emotionally, too.
Then there are the heavy drums (as heard on "Bucket List") and heavy guitar lines ("Happy and I Hate It"), each amped up from Telling All My Secrets, his 2018 debut on Riser House and Columbia Nashville.
"Production wise, I went back to where I started," the Nashville native tells Taste of Country Nights. "Some rock 'n' roll bands I used to be in."
"Truth About You" is the only radio single released from This Is the Heavy, but it symbolizes the album and the hard work he put into making it. During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Tenpenny says he wrote nearly every day and started to stockpile songs he was passionate about for M10 No. 2. One of his co-writers (Matt Alderman, Thomas Archer) had the hook for the near-chart-topper, but he knew right where to go with it.
"It's easy to write breakup songs when you're in love," Tenpenny tells Taste of Country's Evan Paul, referring to fiancée Meghan Patrick. "I don't always write what's happening right now. I like to sometimes go back and think about other things, or sometimes I just make it up completely anyway."
With no constraints, the singer-songwriter found himself with 15 songs for this new album. Then it was 16 and 18 songs. Twenty is where he stopped, and fans may never hear most of what he's written over the last three years.
"Bobby Braddock (writer of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and dozens of other country hits) told me one time, he said, 'Mitchell you're going to be buried with your best songs,'" Tenpenny recalls. "And that changed my life. I was like, 'Gosh man, he's not lying. Most of the songs you write, no one is every going to hear.'"
Don't confuse acceptance with contentment, however. Perhaps he can heed advice from another songwriting legend: It was Alan Jackson who once wrote, "Too much of a good thing ... is a good thing."