Tender Central | The Garden
"Everybody says your debut album is like your life's work.
It's your life up to that point."
Tender Central’s debut album feels like a snapshot of a long overdue summer.
Released now, in the heart of the winter months, The Garden carries with it both the warmth of long, mellow days, and a poignant sensitivity that often feels engagingly restless. Struck with both a natural sweetness and a potent melancholy, singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist India Bourne creates a sound that feels hypnotically modern in her blend of folk, pop and electronica.
Opening with Prelude, a drawn out, string-led introduction, her debut presents an artist with a penchant for the orchestral, and a striking ear for arrangement. Layered in gentle piano, resonating drums, and a crystal clear voice that is as much an instrument as the chords around her, there also sits an uncomfortable sense that something is amiss.
With a life spent on the road, touring with Ben Howard and with supergroup A Blaze of Feather, the concept of ‘home’ has become a foreign notion. As she sings on The Game, ‘the door is looking at me all I’m to do is walk through, but fingers digging in, choking on a dead end’, the 14-track record begins to reveal itself as something wholly personal, with a looming sense of entrapment. From a title as innocent as The Garden, her debut fast evolves into an up close, impassioned look into the emotions that surround a life spent on the move, seeped in anxieties, loneliness and the competition oft felt by touring artists.
Duet Ashes, a collaboration with Matthew And The Atlas, takes on a haunting side, with a restless, marching clap that at times becomes demanding, while the self-titled Tender Central feels like a powerful reclaiming of herself, and her own purpose as the refrain ‘I am Tender Central’ rings out over a thunderous beat.
As the record draws to a close with titular track The Garden, the album finds and acknowledges breathing space within nature. Filled with a sense of growth, she muses ‘this is not the end, there is beauty in this fire, passion in the rain’, and it’s a line both hopeful and self-aware, ending on the sentiment that while peace may always be there, ‘peace is hard to learn’.
The Garden is out now, listen on Spotify.
Read our interview with Tender Central here