Tenille Townes channeled her inner gypsy on her upcoming new project, the Train Track Worktapes, due out April 21.
The new five-song collection was conceptualized, written, and recorded on a charity train trip that covered nearly 3,000 miles. A tradition in her native country, the CP Holiday Train benefits Canadian food banks when their need is greatest, with each attendee bringing donations to catch the free concert that occurs right on the train cars. During their 15 days onboard last December, Townes and her band played 65 shows to crowds ranging from dozens to thousands in communities across southern Canada.
“Being in motion is my favorite state. I love the hum of the engines and the blur of the evergreens out the window, in any mode of transportation. I really do believe that home is not a place, but a feeling that you get,” says Townes. “And being on the road, singing songs for people and feeling a part of a collective brought together through music, that feels like home to me. This collection of songs will always represent that traveling spirit. I hope anyone who listens feels like they are riding right there with us.”
Across the five tracks, Townes explores concepts such as what defines home, living life in motion, quenching a troubadour spirit and feeling all-consuming joy. She produced the project alongside guitarist Jaxon Hargrove, and her band got resourceful with their train setup. A suitcase turned into a kickdrum. Tin foil and paper bowls became a shaker. Teacups made the perfect substitute for a triangle. They borrowed equipment and microphones from the train cars housing the stage and gear. Recording mainly in the train’s caboose, sometimes capturing takes in 20-minute spurts between shows, the group allowed the rattle and rhythm of the train to sink into each song.
“The generosity of everyone bringing donations to their local food banks as we travelled along was a reminder to me of how much good there is in the world, especially in the heart of the smaller, remote communities,” she continues. “In between all these shows, I made it my mission to write about what it felt like to witness that, ride the high and capture what I was feeling on the trip.”