High energy, bright spirits and a healthy dose of laughter emanated from the stage at the Listening Room Café in Nashville on Monday (July 8) as Sony Music Nashville’s
Mitchell Tenpenny presented a troupe of new artists from his record label during a recent writer’s round. Tenpenny, Seaforth, Sisterhood Band and Jameson Rodgers delighted a packed room with original songs that introduce them as talented songwriters and engaging performers. Here’s the insight we gained into these up and coming artists.
Equal parts singer-songwriters and comedians, Seaforth, the duo of Tom Jordan and Mitch Thompson, kept the audience laughing as much as they entertained them with music. The childhood friends hailing from Seaforth, Australia charmed the audience with their silky harmonies on songs like “Taken Your Picture” and upbeat debut single, “Love That.” But the most memorable moment of their set came in the form of their alter egos, the Sweet Boys. Leaving the audience on a humorous note with a “love ballad” they jokingly penned titled “She’s so Pretty” that features such tongue-in-cheek lyrics as “she’s so pretty, like a flower” and “I want to spend my life by her side, I hope she never dies,” the amusing selection left the audience with a smile on their face and Seaforth’s melodic voices in their heads.
With Alyssa Bonagura proclaiming bandmate Ruby Stewart as the “long lost sister I always wanted,” the duo proved to be a powerhouse act throughout their five-song set, particularly on the acoustic ballad “Someone’s.” Serving as the first song they wrote as a pair, it’s clear why it convinced them to become an official duo, their captivating harmonies and poetic lyrics like “if there’s a dream that you’re dreaming, I’ll bring all those colors to life” allowing them to shine. They ended their set the way they started, complimenting the lively opening number “Get Up and Go” that easily lifts one’s mood with an even more spirited closing track. The rollicking, guitar-heavy “Half Way” flexes Bonagura and Stewart’s rousing voices, packing so much power that even the acoustic version lights up a room, leaving the audience wanting more with a song that has potential to be their breakout hit.
Introduced by Tenpenny as “one of my favorite songwriters,” Rodgers proved himself to be a diamond in the rough writer, incorporating a burgeoning hit between thoughtful ballads. He humbly made his stamina as a songwriter apparent with a performance of “I Don’t Know About You,” which Chris Lane is currently sending up the charts, the audience softly singing along to the popular line, “what’s your wrist tattoo Bible verse say?” But the true standout is “Like You’ve Been There Before,” a gritty ballad he relates to the type of saying his father instilled in him growing up. The song shows off his husky voice and aptitude for interpreting lyrics told from the father’s perspective, encouraging his son to walk through every experience with self-confidence, words that Rodgers lived as he brought them to life through music.
Tenpenny accomplished a coveted feat as a new artist when he scored a No. 1 hit with his debut single “Drunk Me” in 2018, his fellow contemporaries regarding him as their fearless leader throughout the night. Though “Drunk Me” is wrapped around a radio-friendly melody, its lyrics reflect a more somber story, a recurring theme in Tenpenny’s acoustic set. No song demonstrated this as naturally than the unreleased true story “I Can’t Go to Church Anymore,” taking Tenpenny back to high school as he nurses a broken heart after his girlfriend broke up with him, so much so he avoided going to church on Sundays as not to face her. He was met with resounding approval after the first chorus, while lyrics “ain’t it crazy an angel drug a man through hell…She gets the church, she gets the Bible, I get the hurt, I get the bottle” brought them to their feet at its conclusion with a standing ovation. The clever “Alcohol You Later” balanced with the reflective nature of “Walk Like Him” that pays homage to his father who passed away from cancer, Tenpenny sets himself up to be a dynamic artist, akin to the talented peers he shared the stage with.