There’s details and memories of people from the past that are bound to be with you for life. I can’t tell you how often I think about a former love’s childhood obsession with John Deere lawnmowers whenever I pass by any of their agricultural machinery. Unfortunately for me, I currently reside in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest - so, John Deere equipment is a rather common sight. And I used to think the universe was punishing me by filling my head with visions of this former love, but it’s given me perspective on the idea of love - or much rather, how we navigate love in young adulthood. Cate Tomlinson’s “twenty one” beautifully encapsulates this navigation and the ever-lasting impact it leaves on us.
Through “twenty one”, Tomlinson allows listeners to explore a deeply intimate part of her life in a vulnerable ballad. The song wraps you up in a lush piano melody and soft strings throughout its duration to express the melancholic nature of the nostalgia at hand. In the opening verses, we learn that Tomlinson has been reflecting and trying to explain the relationship that's helped shaped her since the age of 15. Now at 21, she realizes in hindsight that an unawareness of her own boundaries contributed to a great deal of the discomfort experienced within the relationship and left lasting residual effects. She even notes in the chorus that one of the residual effects are still falling "for hopeless men" even when better options had presented themselves. There's a silent rage to be had when we realize that an understanding of oneself alongside advocacy could have drastically changed the outcome of the relationship, and in turn how we pursue love in the future. The heartfelt bridge showcases heavier strings while dropping a big revelation; the other half of this relationship is unaware of the compromises Tomlinson made in order to be with them, or even people that reminded her of them. Which makes this silent rage deafening and all the more heavyhearted. Ultimately, this journey into nostalgia has helped the artist realize their own limitations. One of the biggest limitations being the compromise of yourself - especially when it was never asked of you.
Cate Tomlinson is a California-born singer and songwriter. Tomlinson’s music features a unique blend of pop, rock, and soul to catch the ear of music lovers across multiple genres. Currently, the artist finds herself studying at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts as a music industry major while building up their portfolio and contributing to their discography. This latest single was released before Tomlinson’s 22nd birthday, and is set to be featured on an upcoming EP that’s due to release over the summer. The EP recounts intimate stories from the artist that reflect the struggle of transitioning into young adulthood. If you’ve enjoyed Cate Tomlinson’s reflective ballad as much as I have, show her some virtual love in the form of streams, likes, and follows. And a Happy 22nd Birthday from Pop Passion as well; cheers to a very long, and fruitful career as a thoughtful, passionate artist.
Written by Giavanna Gradaille
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