Oct 12, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Monica Murray
Since debuting in 2016, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kaley Rutledge has been releasing music under her more experimental moniker, De Joie. This week she returns with her first album under her name, Tender Heart, a record of swelling, colorful soundscapes, vibrant arrangements, and a heart-rending emotive core.
For her debut record under her name, Rutledge takes on the complicated and emotionally fraught world of mental health. In the midst of the pandemic, Rutledge had shifted her focus from music to a career as a mental health therapist when a close friend took her own life. Rutledge began writing music for the first time in months in order to process the experience, with the resulting songs comprising the core of Tender Heart. She’s already shared an array of singles from the record and today she’s back before the full album release with one final track, “Fine,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“Fine” is a beautifully arranged piece of singer/songwriter indie pop, in much the same vein as touchstones like Feist and acclaimed contemporaries like Japanese Breakfast. Smoldering vocals, layered instrumentals, and lush production, courtesy of producer Thad Kopec, all interlock into an offering that proves both strident and vulnerable. Lyrically, Rutledge explores the boundaries of a deteriorating relationship, one where feelings are stuffed deep inside and deep pains go unvoiced一“We both know it hasn’t been said / Shoved under the bed / A letter we never read / And listen, I know you’re stuck in your head / But maybe instead you can tell me how it really is.”
Rutledge says of the track, “I remember singing the first verse into my phone after a difficult interaction with someone I dearly love. I brought the idea to Thad and he helped write the rest of the track. We bonded over our shared disdain for passive-aggressive behavior and how silence can slowly deteriorate even the strongest of relationships. I have found myself blaring this song with my windows down on darker days. The instrumentation and feel of it seem to hold a space for anger and vulnerability, something I think we can all use from time to time.”
Check out the song below and watch for Tender Heart, coming October 15th via Tonetree.