Our Take: Tenderfoot Debut ‘To Be Young’ with Heartfelt Warmth and Nostalgic Reverie

To Be Young - Tenderfoot

Our Rating

Oh, how time flies… passing by like a bird in the night.

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Tenderfoot’s debut album is the kind of record that takes a lifetime of experience to create: Fiercely reflective and hauntingly intimate, To Be Young captures life’s highs and lows through passionate indie rock reverie and heartfelt folk nostalgia.

Even on my lonely days
I know that I am still loved
It’s pretty often that I feel
that I just don’t fit in
And that’s okay
‘Cause everybody’s different
And not everything works out
Sometimes I just need to step back
And value who I am
– “Self Worth,” Tenderfoot
Listen: To Be Young – Tenderfoot


Released June 1, 2018 via Audio Network, To Be Young immediately hits home with an irresistibly cathartic musical journey. While the debut album is likely  to be most listeners’ first exposure to Sydney, Australia’s Tenderfoot, the band’s openness and sincerity make them feel like old friends: The sort of folks with whom you can pick up right where you left off, without ever skipping a beat. Such authenticity is hard to come by these days in people, let alone in a full-length album – but that’s what makes Tenderfoot truly shine, helping them rise above the noise. The band lays it all on the line in a poignant, poetic outpouring of emotive music and timeless sentiment.

Atwood Magazine had the pleasure of premiering the video for pre-release single “She Calls” last month. An ode to the good times, “She Calls” is an easy gateway track to catch listeners’ attention and draw us in: Catchy and lively, it’s “a summer smash waiting to happen” that combines the band’s nostalgia with upbeat charm as frontman John Vella toasts to the good times:

To the years, to the hearts
To the nights of our lives
We ran until the morning light
To the love that you feel
To the hearts that’ll heal
Keep burning till you’re burning bright


Lead single “The Balance” opens the album with a vibey, somber warmth – a term we could use repeatedly to describe the whole record. “And it comes like this, and it goes like that; you can buy friends, but not your lovers,” Vella sings in the pre-chorus, striving to find the right foothold on life. We all stumble and trip, thinking we’re on the right path only to find we’re going the wrong way, or going nowhere at all.

To Be Young - Tenderfoot

To Be Young – Tenderfoot

The band brightens up on “Burn It Down,” fueled by an emphatic brass section that arouses our spirits and calls us to task. A significant amount of To Be Young was orchestrated and recorded in London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that Tenderfoot made the most of, infusing almost every track with live brass or strings to add depth to their already-stirring songs. This is perhaps no better seen than on the moving ballad “Self Worth,” an epically intimate opus whose second half features a full orchestral accompaniment slowly rising, glowing brighter and more majestic toward a crescendo that never quite comes.

But instrumentation can only work well if the songs themselves are good. Thankfully, Tenderfoot’s songwriting is as thoughtful as it is memorable. “Pretty lady with jewelry eyes, but I ain’t no jeweler, and I ain’t go no idea of the price,” Vella chants with a heavy heart in “The Day We Met.” A clever metaphor, the line works even better as an earworm, getting stuck in our heads on repeat. The same can be said of the powerful “Oh How Time Flies,” a pivotal song that serves as a jumping-off point for much of To Be Young‘s nostalgic content. Vella has described “Oh How Time Flies” as a cornerstone moment for himself and for Tenderfoot, and that intensity and importance can certainly be felt in the song’s dazzling radiance.

Tenderfoot © Ash King

Tenderfoot © Ash King

“Oh How Time Flies” reminds one of the wistful smiles one might see a grandparent wearing; the overwhelming weight of life pushes and pulls as the soul is humbled by the sheer magnificence of existence. In many a sense, that’s the underlying ethos of To Be Young: Life is scary, but we persevere. Though we exist in the moment, we carry an ever-increasing treasure trove of memories with us as we grow, each one a vivid part of our past offering brief respite from the present.

Whether you’re listening to find meaning in your world, or listening for pleasure, Tenderfoot’s To Be Young will fill your life with light. Listen to their debut, out now, and stay tuned for Atwood Magazine‘s exclusive interview with Tenderfoot – coming soon!

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:: stream/purchase To Be Young here ::

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To Be Young - Tenderfoot

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:: To Be Young – Tenderfoot ::

Raise a Glass with Tenderfoot's “She Calls,” an Ode to Good Times

:: PREMIERE ::

The Breakdown

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com