Courtney Marie Andrews – ‘Old Flowers’ review: break-up ballads with haunting, poetic lyricism

The Arizona songwriter dims the porch light, kicks off her cowboy boots and pours her heart out for this intimate and stripped-back collection

Having spent almost half a lifetime crafting elegant and delicate singer-songwriter-ly tunes, 2018 saw Arizona’s Courtney Marie Andrews released her most impressive album. Transcending its Americana tag, ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ was a feast of expansive, dreamy country-soul with flecks of gospel that recalled the 1960s and 1970s greats such as Bobbie Gentry, Linda Ronstadt and Mavis Staples. It was the soundtrack to the chicest honky-tonk in town.

Two years later and Andrews has dimmed the porch light, kicked off her cowboy boots and sent the big band home, offering up instead the devastatingly intimate and open-hearted ‘Old Flowers’. With instrumentation provided solely by Andrews and two other musicians – Matthew Davidson on everything from bass and pedal steel to pump organ and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia on drums – her hushed, acoustic sound of her seventh album is fittingly meditative. Musing on the break-up of a nine-year-long romantic relationship, simplicity is key to ‘Old Flowers’’ innate grace.

The rolling piano-driven melody of ‘Guilty’ has the unhurried quality of a pared-back Neil Young ballad while the velvety, straight-up gorgeous ‘Together Or Alone’ could have easily lent itself to the lavish, dramatic production of her Andrews’ previous album. The track sees her looking inwards and coming up with the kind of zen-like acceptance you’d normally only get after a serious session on the therapist’s couch. “I hope that you find what it is you’re looking for / I’m just proud to have loved you enough to ask for more,” she sings sagely.

Andrews, who regularly posts her own poetry on social media, recently secured a poetry book deal and ‘Old Flowers’’ stripped back sound gives her impeccable way with words the perfect amount of breathing room. On the album’s title track she deftly uses the natural world for a hard-hitting rumination on the human condition, musing that “you can’t water old flowers.

There’s more highly relatable reflection on the crystal clear album closer ‘Ships In The Night’, which takes the form of a thoughtful letter to her ex. “Hope you ease up on the drinking / Hope you laugh, hope you care / Hope your days are even better than the ones that we shared,” she offers, before, her voice trembling with tenderness, expressing hope that her former partner finds love again with someone new. Breaking up is hard to to do, but at least Andrews’ has given us these exquisite songs.

Details

Release date: July 24

Record label: Loose / Fat Possum Records

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