Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers

This is not a happy album. But that doesn’t mean it is a bad album. On the contrary, is it exceptionally good. Written and recorded after the break-up of her decade long relationship, Courtney Marie Andrews perfectly captures the heartbreak, loneliness and longing that we have all felt but have been unable to articulate.

This is a sad album. But it is a crushingly beautiful one as well. Andrews states in her accompanying notes that, “there are a million songs about heartbreak”, and that’s true, yes, but not many like this. Not many people can bring such raw emotion to a performance like Courtney Marie Andrews can. She doesn’t do anything particularly different – there are no vocally acrobatic wailings or the like. But there is something special in these songs; that paradoxical feeling of nostalgic yearning for your ex and reluctant acceptance that they are gone. “Please, please, please break the spell” sings Andrews, as we have all thought before.

This record covers all the textbook break-up emotions, so easy to predict but still devastating nonetheless – there’s denial (“it must be someone else’s fault”), self-reproach (“I am guilty”), doubt (“I may never let love in again”) and acceptance (“you can’t water old flowers”). Throughout the record, each emotional symptom is handled with a delicacy and poise which, if not necessarily new, is a side of Andrews which is not usually laid out so blatantly as this.

This is a postponed album. But it will be worth the wait. At the time of writing this review, the world is in lockdown. This record, slated for release on 5th June, has been delayed until the end of July. Who knows what situation we will find ourselves in once Old Flowers is released? It would be wonderful to sit here and write about how this album takes the listener away from the current climate, away from anxiety and away from tragedy, but unfortunately there is no escaping that and that is not a fair barometer of a record. So, no, this album doesn’t do that. Instead, it shines a spotlight on the fact that things are not always sunny and grand and that that, in and of itself, is ok.

This is an album that reminds you it is ok not to be ok. This is an album for the times we are living in, an album of solidarity and a near flawless one at that. She may not have meant it to be taken this way, but Andrews summed it up perfectly in the record’s accompanying notes:

“This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with.”

Well, quite.

James Beck

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