Courtney Marie Andrews - Honest Life
Courtney Marie Andrews came into my life thanks to Vinyl Eddie's in York. I was swapping notes with a bloke about Americana. He was there thumbing through the new releases. He was acquiring the latest Steve Earle LP, something I had first hand experience of thanks to reviewing it for the Americana Music Show. He recommended this album and I dutifully invested. What a beautiful 36 minutes and 39 seconds Honest Life is.
Recommendations are the finest way to discover music and this is a gift. Ten tracks that might fall into a number of genres including 'Singer Songwriter', 'Folk' and 'Americana'. Her distinctive voice and delivery is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. However that comparison is a a heavy load to bear and she is her own voice. You are drawn in to the delivery and expression as well as the words. A comment on Joni was that if you were her lover then you would end up sometime later in a raw and emotional lyric, I can't help but wonder how many beaus are nervously playing this album.
The instrumentation is always simple and delivered by a gentle rock band - drums, piano/ organ, bass, guitar and harmony vocals but they seldom intrude on a vocal performance that commands the centre stage. Equipped with a mellifluous tone and killer tunes each track is captivating. She wrote all the songs and has the talent to find a wonderful tune and lyrics that are life stories mainly about her tribulations in love. Clearly at the tender age of 26 she is serving her apprenticeship in matters of the heart.
Only In My Mind starts with Joni's Blue era piano and the vocal recounts a failed love story as luscious strings accompany her through her delusions. Not The End introduces pedal steel, clearly this is one of the greatest pieces of machinery known to mankind, and again our heroine reflects on the lover she adores and seeks reassurance that she is not about to pass into his past. Table For One brings the lonely life of a touring musician into sharp relief. Homesick, eating and drinking alone, straddling the immense distances of the US and missing her lover: we enjoy the lilting acoustic track underpinned by pedal steel bringing sweetness to the bitterest of stories.
Irene has a soaring vocal and concerns itself with advice to a friend who lacks confidence in the direction her life is taking her. She doubts she has control over the choices available. Organ and guitar have their tasteful moments as the rhythm finds your hips.
If this doesn't grab your attention then you don't have any handles and this will be on my ‘end of year’ list.