Courtney Marie Andrews is an enchanting singer-songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona, with a heartbreaker of a voice and a rare talent for writing heartfelt songs, which connect on a personal level. 2016’s breakthrough album, Honest Life was followed by the critically-acclaimed May Your Kindness Remain, which was toured extensively and resulted in Andrews winning International Artist of the Year at the UK Americana Awards in 2018. Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album, Old Flowers, was created in the aftermath of a nine-year relationship and features her most raw and vulnerable writing to date. As Andrews herself has said…”It’s about heartbreak. I did not lie when writing these songs.”
To emphasise the cathartic nature of the record, the production is relatively light touch, with the focus on Courtney Marie Andrews’ voice and the intention behind the songs. The instrumentation is sparse for the most part, with Andrews’ elegant piano or chiming guitar to the fore, adding only light percussion, occasional, yearning pedal steel guitar and some washes of ambient electronica.
In the opening song, Burlap String, Courtney Marie Andrews (affectionately known as ‘CMA’) laments the passing of a couple who were valuable mentors in her early music career, her heart-breaking, multi-tracked vocals swelling into the choruses…”If I could go back now, I’d pick you wild flowers, tie ‘em up in burlap string, tell you what you mean to me.” Guilty is couched in confessional tones, as Andrews reflects on a love which has ebbed away, while If I Told takes the form of an emotional message to her former lover, looking back on their relationship fondly, although the “what ifs” provide a bittersweet edge. There is warmth to ease the pain in Together Or Alone, where CMA’s graceful piano provides added comfort to the lyrics…”I hope one day we’ll be laughing, together or alone”.
Carnival Dream is an intense study in heartbreak, sung over spare and echoing piano chords…”I lose you each night in this carnival dream, when I wake up all I find are memories.” This intensity becomes almost unbearable, as the following lines repeat to fade out the song…”Will I ever let love in again? I may never let love in again…” In the quietly powerful title track, Andrews uses old flowers as a metaphor for lost love (“You can’t water old flowers…”) and delivers a glorious, tumbling piano break to heighten the poignancy. For the album’s only up-tempo song, the country tinged It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault, CMA adopts a defiant and possibly ironic tone, as she asserts “I can’t be to blame for the story of this pain.”
How You Get Hurt features majestic piano chords, with the pain and regret in the lyrics matched by spine-tingling washes of electronica. The album closes with the incredibly moving Ships In The Night, in which Courtney Marie Andrews sends a postcard (real or imaginary?) across the Atlantic to her former lover and provides a form of closure with the line…”I’m sending you my love…and nothing more.”
On the strength of her magnificent new album, Old Flowers, Courtney Marie Andrews joins the ranks of the truly great American singer-songwriters.
Old Flowers will be released by Loose/Fat Possum Records on 24th July 2020