Sunday, August 06, 2023

A Week In The Life Of Ten Tonnes, ‘Dancing, Alone’

Ten Tonnes, also known as Ethan Barnett, was once a young boy from Hertford, following in his brother’s footsteps, but not anymore. 

The sophomore album from the 26 year-old, ‘Dancing, Alone’, is the perfect example of the art of storytelling through music, touching on themes of love, loss, hope and survival. If Summer was an album, this would be it. 

Monday Morning’ is the first track of the album. A fresh start. It is obvious we are at the beginning here, it’s bright and new. The first words the listener hears is “it’s true what they say / everybody makes mistakes”, a very positive start to an emotional album. This almost feels like comfort from Ethan, an ‘it’s okay, nobody’s perfect’ kind of thing. This is a very warm welcome to the album as it feels like he is opening up his arms to the listener so they can go through this journey together. To begin with, the listener is hit with classic soft, indie electric guitar, another comforting thing to hear, something we all know and love, classic Ten Tonnes' behaviour. The perfect feel good indie sound is backed up with Ethan’s soft vocals, gently singing the words he has written for the listener. This is definitely an album to listen to alone; it feels all too personal and intimate to be casual listening within a group. 

The people that inspired this album is all too explicit. There is only one band that could have had this much impact on the new album, Joy Division. The title track, ‘Dancing, Alone’ is much more villainous than the first two tracks on the album. Ethan clearly wrote this sad song pretending to be okay (we’ve all been there), and the heavy bass and melancholy electric guitar are all too familiar in the works of Joy Division, ‘Atmosphere’ in particular. The echoey and dream like vocals adding fuel to the already burning fire. This track feels like a trip inside Ethan’s head, and the listener gets a glimpse of what it’s like when he is left alone with his thoughts. More inspiration from indie legends like Alfie Templeman and Wallows are clear in this song with contrasting electric guitar riffs against the heavy bass. 

Summer was the only word that came to mind listening to the beginning of this album, but as it progresses, it starts to go colder, like the beginning of Autumn, at that time when the leaves are starting to go orange and falling off the trees. ‘Lone Star’ is a break from the up beat tracks, the perfect little acoustic number to bring the listener back down to Earth and give them a breather. Once again, the Joy Division similarities are uncanny, but Ethan has definitely made it his own here. The soft acoustic guitar and vocals of this track instantly resembled that of Alex Turner’s ‘Submarine’ soundtrack. It’s hard not to imagine Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige dancing (alone) to this song on the beach. 

The listener is placed straight into the dancey tracks again after ‘Lone Star’, there is no building up to it. This is Ethan’s way of telling them about his feelings, explaining that he’s all over the place after he’s suffered loss and heartbreak, and the world can throw all kinds of surprises at you. It is also important to keep the listener aware when experiencing an album, and ‘Dancing, Alone’ does exactly that. It is never clear whether there will be a slow song or an up beat song next. The lack of transitions in the album helps to emphasise this, showing us that it’s not all smooth sailing in life. 

Come On Home’ feels like it was written for each individual listener personally. It’s warm and welcoming, like sitting by a fireplace when it’s snowing outside. 

The final track of the album is ‘Waiting For The Sun’, concluding the week that began with ‘Monday Morning’. It’s Sunday night and all that’s left to do now is wait for the sun again for the next week. It’s a pat on the back for making it through the week, and a thank you for making it through the album and listening to what Ethan has to say. The circular structure of the album makes it never ending like it could be listened to on repeat and never end, it’s an endless cycle of surviving each day and taking it step by step. 

Izzi Glover
Image: ‘Dancing, Alone’ Official Album Cover

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