Although you may have yet to discover Courtney Marie Andrews, she is by no means a newcomer to the country-folk scene. Touring since the tender age of 16, Honest Life is the 6th record since her debut album in 2008. In some way, the opening track perhaps tells us as much: “Young with no where to be/But you can’t get far for free/This ain’t no rookie dreaming”. Whatever Courtney had in mind when these lyrics were written, one thing’s for sure, the lyricism is enchanting from the outset.
And in all truthfulness, enchanting is a pretty good word to describe the whole album. Intimate. Heart-wrenching. Harmonious yet haunting. It’s the sort of album that has led many to resort to comparisons when trying to find the words to describe it. It’s also the sort of album on which every track forms part of a delicate woven thread of honest experience and melancholic emotion. A beautiful piece of art has come from homesickness, coming of age, heartbreak and coming home. If you don’t already, you’ll know how it feels when you’ve listened to the 10 excellent tracks on Courtney’s self-written and self-produced record.
Instrumentally, we mostly hear the acoustic guitar and a few prominent piano melodies, accompanied by the occasional pedal steel or electric guitar carefully added to the mix. Less is more, indeed, as this goes to highlight Courtney’s unique, pure, and lingering vocals. This is particularly the case on my favourite track Table for One that tells a tale of longing and difficulty of life on the road like never before: “And I’m ready to go home/You don’t want to be like me/This life it ain’t free/ Always chained to when I leave”. It is equally so on the piano-dominated closing track Only in My Mind that perfectly closes the album with building string accompaniment, breaking your heart and leaving you craving for more.
Other highlights include the country-soul song Irene, a grave warning disguised in an cheery, upbeat tempo for all us good people who sometimes draw troublesome things, and Put the Fire Out, the lead single of the record which perfectly summaries the record in one optimistic track.
Riding on the recent buzz around excellent singer-songwriters such as Lori McKenna and Natalie Hemby, it will be fair to say that although this is Courtney’s 6th album, it may be the first to truly propel her into the minds of country fans. Perhaps, it could even break onto the mainstream scene. Undoubtedly, it fully deserves it.
If you like: Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Lori McKenna, Margo Price, Andrew Combs – then this album is the one you didn’t know you’ve been waiting for.
Honest Life will be released 20 January 2017 on 180g turquoise vinyl, CD & download, via Loose:
You’ll also want to catch Courtney touring the UK in February and March on the dates below:(and I’ll see you there!):
21 Feb – NORWICH, Arts Centre (supporting The Handsome Family)
22 Feb – MANCHESTER, RNCM (supporting The Handsome Family)
23 Feb – GLASGOW, St Luke’s (supporting The Handsome Family)
24 Feb – EDINBURGH, The Caves (supporting The Handsome Family)
25 Feb – GATESHEAD, Sage 2 (supporting The Handsome Family)
26 Feb – DURHAM, Old Cinema Launderette – CMA Headline show
27 Feb – LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club (supporting The Handsome Family)
28 Feb – CARDIFF, Clwb Ifor Bach – CMA Headline show
1 Mar – COVENTRY- The Tin – CCMA Headline show
2 Mar – LONDON, Union Chapel (supporting The Handsome Family)
3 Mar – BRIGHTON, Concorde 2 (supporting The Handsome Family) l
4 Mar – GUILDFORD, The Keep – CMA Headline show
6 Mar – LONDON, The Social
Review written by Nathalie Larsen