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Cate Tomlinson weaves an introspective narrative of her adolescence in new single 'twenty one'

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Timed to be released just before her 22nd birthday, “twenty one” is the haunting pop ballad mourning the loss of one’s self in a relationship. Coming almost a year after Tomlinson’s grungy and bitter pop-rock anthem, “hurt you”, “twenty one” is the self-reflective story of navigating the effects of a past relationship.

The opening line, “Rum and coke for me, I’m barefoot, 15,” hangs in the air as Tomlinson begins to weave this story. Soft piano and droning guitar fill the space around her voice with a melancholic suspense.


“twenty one” captures what it’s like to gain perspective on a past relationship. Capitalizing on her perspective and maturity, Cate explains the trials of a young, complicated romance and the morality of it all.


“I feel like I’ve been trying to write this song since I was 16, and it finally happened in the way I wanted it to this year. I think the reason I couldn’t do it before was because I didn’t have enough perspective. Everyone grows with time, but it took me a full five years to gather all the information and reflection I needed to explain this relationship to myself and through the track. I sometimes get asked why I’ve never had a boyfriend, and twenty one is kind of an explanation. It’s also the last song I think I’ll write about that time period in my life. It helped me unpack a lot of stuff–I didn’t really get closure, but now I have a product that encapsulates the sadness and anger about this experience I had been trying to suppress for the past couple of years.


This song makes me feel pretty vulnerable, but overall I’m proud of it and I love it and I think other people will be able to see themselves in it so that outweighs the discomfort. My main goal was to capture how it feels to compromise yourself for a person who is not asking you to and does not care if you do. Part of it is the anger I felt towards myself knowing I made the choice to go through that relationship when no one was asking me to, and the other part is having some perspective as a 21 year old and realizing I was just young and didn’t have the tools or wisdom to pull myself out of it. So I would say the mood is reflective and vulnerable and sad.” - Cate Tomlinson


Cate Tomlinson is a 21-year-old singer, songwriter, and performing artist from Palo Alto, California. Her music draws from pop, soul, and rock. The young self-made artist is now based out of Boston and is working to develop her unique voice as an artist at Northeastern University.


Cate is set to release her second EP in the summer of 2023. It is her first body of work with producers Fil Thorpe (Neck Deep, Worlds First Cinema) and John Sinclair (World’s First Cinema, Macklemore).


Cate spent her last summer writing and performing in the greater Los Angeles area gracing the stage at Hotel Cafe, Breaking Sound, and indie festival NextFest LA. She has been praised by the likes of Rising Artists, Right Chord Music, Kings of A&R, Glasse Factory, Blurred Culture, and Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlist.


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Press Release by Hannah Schneider of Unheard Gems


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