Mitchell Tenpenny blends the laid-back, party-hearty vibe of bro country with a seriously soulful streak. Elements of this mix could be heard on his 2015 indie debut Black Crow, but he refined his sound and stripped away some of the rootsier influences for 2017's Linden Ave, which was anchored by the nostalgic "Truck I Drove in High School" and the profane yet soulful "Bitches."
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Tenpenny grew up in a city and home surrounded by music. His grandmother was Donna Hilley, a president of Sony/ATV Publishing, and through her, he had brushes with such Music City heavyweights as Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. Inspired by their writing, he decided to pursue country music as a vocation. Picking up the guitar at the age of 13, Tenpenny learned how to play and write. After graduating with a music business degree from Middle Tennessee State University, he set out on his professional career.
In April 2015, Creation Lab Records released his debut, Black Crow, a record that showed a distinct heartland rock bent -- something that was evident from the single "Love & Rock n' Roll" -- and featured cameos from the SteelDrivers on the single "Cane's Creek," and Ace Frehley and Brian "Head" Welch on an alternate version of the title track.
As he worked on establishing himself as a performer, he gained attention as a songwriter in 2016. He co-wrote Granger Smith's Billboard Country Airplay Top Ten hit "If the Boot Fits" along with Jon Langston's single "All Eyes on Us." Toward the end of the year, he collaborated on songs for Hurricane, the 2016 debut from Nick Fradiani, the singer who won the 14th season of American Idol.
Tenpenny signed with Riser House Entertainment in 2017, releasing "Alcohol You Later" in April before the EP Linden Ave arrived in July. Both the single and EP showed Tenpenny following a more soulful direction, one that was reminiscent of the country-R&B of Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett. His Riser-issued eponymous 2018 EP included the boozy single "Drunk Me."
"Drunk Me" wound up climbing into Billboard's Country Top Ten—it peaked at two on their Country Airplay chart -- and set up the December release of Tenpenny's Rising House/Columbia debut, Telling All My Secrets. Accompanying the album was a re-release of "Alcohol You Later." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine