Mitchell Tenpenny Is Going with the Flow When It Comes to His Career: 'I Listen to the People Who Listen to Me'

The country singer-songwriter's new EP Midtown Diaries runs the gamut from finding love to losing love and from hookups to breakups

Mitchell Tenpenny is in love, and he's been in it since the moment he locked eyes with fellow country artist Meghan Patrick at a Nashville bar.

But don't expect him to get too sappy about it.

"Sometimes a lot of couples over post about each other," Tenpenny tells PEOPLE with a laugh. "I mean, are they overcompensating for something? We don't want to do that. We want it to be natural and real."

And it's this natural and real love that can not only be seen in the couple's Instagram pics, but it can also be heard within every note of "I Can't Love You Any More," a lyrical twist of a love song that serves as a vital piece of the musical kaleidoscope that is Tenpenny's new EP Midtown Diaries.

"It's got that 'turn of phrase' where it's not what you think it is," says Tenpenny, who wrote the song alongside HARDY and Jordan Schmidt. "It's basically saying, 'I can't love you any more than I do right now.' When we were writing it, I realized that I was describing my girlfriend Meghan throughout the whole thing. That song tells the story of our life."

While the lyrical subject matter of Midtown Diaries runs the gamut from finding love to losing love and from hookups to breakups, the EP also tells a somewhat different story from the one that fans last heard on Tenpenny's 2018 offering Telling All My Secrets, which happened to include his 2X platinum-certified, No. 1 hit "Drunk Me."

"I'm a completely different person than I was on that record," Tenpenny, 32, explains.

Granted, Tenpenny has changed along with the rest of us throughout the past few years — years that have been filled with pandemic shutdowns and political tension, but years in which Tenpenny also further realized that life is far too short to plan too far in advance.

mitchell tenpenny
Mitchell Tenpenny. Matthew Berinato

Take for example the release of his thought-provoking song "Bucket List," a gem penned by Chris DeStefano and Laura Veltz that he released on New Year's Day of this year. The song instantly conjured up the vibes of songs such as Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying," and began its trek up the charts. But then this past summer, Tenpenny shared a snippet of another song at a time when "Bucket List" probably had yet to reach its full chart potential. That song was "Truth About You."

"I kind of forgot about 'Truth About You,'" says Tenpenny of the song that went and became the largest streaming debut of his career, garnering 2.5 million streams in its first three days of release. "I went back and heard it and then shared it on Tik Tok, and it just sparked a whole new life for it."

He also learned a lot from it.

"It reminded me that I need to listen to the people that listen to me," adds Tenpenny of the song that soon became his single that he wrote alongside fellow songwriters Matt Alderman and Thomas Archer. "They tell you exactly like it is. It's immediate affirmation and confirmation of the direction you should take when it comes to putting out songs. It's a test I've never been able to do in the past."

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Mitchell Tenpenny.

In addition to the eight-track collection of songs — completely co-written by Tenpenny — on Midtown Diaries, Tenpenny also finds himself with another hit on his hands, courtesy of his collaboration with Chris Young on the song "At the End of a Bar."

"It's just another one of those crazy things," chuckles Tenpenny, who is scheduled to launch a 12-city headline tour on Sept. 23, which most certainly will include songs off of Midtown Diaries along with other fan favorites "Alcohol You Later" and "Anything She Says."

"For Chris just to have even cut that song was special for me, let alone make it the single and then shoot a video with me for it?! I mean, it was the last song to make his record Famous Friends. It's amazing how things end up sometimes."

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