Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain
Courtney Marie Andrews certainly hasn’t taken any short cuts in reaching her well earned recent success. Having started her career performing from the age of 15, she has six albums under her belt already, for several years was an auxiliary member of Jimmy Eat World (playing keyboards and backing vocals on their 2010 album ‘Invented’) playing with them over several tours. Her breakthrough though came with last years ‘Honest Life’ LP (still my hands down favourite release from 2017, discovered via an article on Laura Marling‘s last album), a stunningly beautiful record which deftly showcased her skills as a singer and lyricist.
Courtney now returns just over twelve months later with the eagerly anticipated new LP ‘May Your Kindness Remain’. She describes the inspiration behind the new record as “coming to terms with depression and the reality of the world we’re living in.” Despite this seemingly dour outlook, the album gives a feeling of overall optimism and faith in the human spirit, with a warm, enveloping sound from start to finish.
Both lyrically and sonically this is a step forward for Andrews – nothing too bold or dramatic, but across the album there is a sense of growth and development with informed influences like gospel making a big impression. Soulful backing singers add real texture to several numbers, most notably the title track and the final number ‘Long Road Back To You’.
The album was recorded in the space of eight days and there’s a real feeling of freshness to the sound overall. The songs are clear and concise, with next to no overproduction (Andrews co-produced the entire album, alongside renowned producer Mark Howard, whose past collaborations include Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris & Tom Waits). The whole band are on top form throughout, but overall undoubtedly this is Andrews show. There’s a real sense of artistic intent stamped on top of the work and – most significantly – this album sees Courtney use her voice more than previously as a focal instrument in it’s own right, more than just a vessel for her lyrics. Her diction is crystal clear, and her range is pushed much further than her earlier work without losing its intimate underlying feeling or authentic country twang.
The lyrics themselves range from the heartfelt, confessional, tone straight from ‘Honest Life’ that’s heard on ‘This House’, to ‘I’ve Hurt Worse’ where Courtney takes a darker & more sarcastic turn of phrase, listing the ways in which her useless lover treats her. The line “Mother says we love who we think we deserve” twists the emphasis on to how much a persons self-worth is projected into a relationship, to heartbreaking effect. There is real craftsmanship woven into her lyricism, songs which might well sound cloying and overly sentimental in the hands of lesser songsmiths, but here there’s an authentic sense of truthfulness to her words.