Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future

The bar has been set pretty high when it comes to new Courtney Marie Andrews material. Although previous records have been quite bleak affairs, what shone through in her two previous records particularly was the burgeoning confidence of their production. This continues in stunning fashion on latest release Loose Future, but from the opening strains of the title track we sense there has been a shift in Andrews’ musical and potentially human philosophy. It’s not often you refer to CMA as jaunty but this track has an unfaltering gait that feels… good! Full of swooning Americana tones and a summery melody, the song sweeps you up in its breezy vibe.

Delightful harmonies compliment CMA’s more mollifying tones on ‘Older Now’. There is a sense that the veil of despair that engulfed previous records has been lifted and there is a little California sunshine entering the lexicon of the Americana genre. Even the more sombre pacing of ‘On the Line’ possesses some insight into looking forward instead of back when she sings “I’ve gottеn used to moving on – Air fresheners dangling in my mirror – If you only knew how far I’ve gone – How far I’ll go to avoid these tears.”

There is colour to the vocals and not for the first time, ‘Satellite’ recalls the clement character of Jenny Lewis’ vocals, albeit shot through with a dash of cynicism at times when she sings “Tells me he loves me and I wanna believe him” on the relaxed, evocative ‘These are the Good Old Days’.

The album strolls briskly along; an average track length of around three minutes offers delightful moments which pleasantly drift away to be replaced by the next example of CMA’s more confident, colourful candour. If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like Courtney Marie Andrews, all the Americana conventions are present and correct. The slide guitar on ‘You Do What You Want’ glistens and there’s a twang to proceedings on ‘Thinkin’ On You’, but there’s a clear shift to something more optimistic. The sweeping strings of the latter certainly contribute to something more cinematic but CMA still has that uncanny ability to shift on a dime and ‘Let Her Go’ manages to discombobulate with a more mournful timbre despite the colour evoked by the lyrics.

This may not be the hard-hitter that CMA has delivered over recent years, but perhaps she’s read the room. Hasn’t life thrown a couple of unplayable knuckleballs recently? When this happens we seek out sources that can balance the calamity. Here is a record that will do exactly that. Sweet, timeless and even jaunty. This may not be the total reinvention of Courtney Marie Andrews. It was probably not intended to be, but Loose Future should at least make you feel good.

Iain Fox