Album Review – ‘Old Flowers’ Courtney Marie Andrews by Mike Ritchie.
Album Review – Courtney Marie Andrews ‘Old Flowers’ by Mike Ritchie, July 2020
Not a word is wasted, not a note out of place, not a moment that can’t be savoured on this gem of an album from Courtney Marie Andrews who beckons us to her heartbreak, loss and reflections of a love and loving time that withered like old flowers after nine years.
It is an exquisite collection and I defy anyone to drift away after the opening tracks, such is the compelling quality of the playing and writing. Throughout, these wistful and sad songs harbour no sense of anger or recrimination, more a realisation that what she shared wasn’t sustainable and the parting had to be endured. Now she’s facing up to life as a woman on her own.
Courtney Marie Andrews has always been a candid and expressive songwriter – think Table For One from her breakthrough album Honest Life. This time out, Old Flowers delivers heartfelt, bittersweet reminiscences in an absorbing way as she bravely examines the past and her painful feelings through deft and absorbingly spare productions blessed delicately by poised, yearning vocals that float as lightly as petals from a blossom.
On the gorgeous and questioning Together or Alone, she sings: “I hope one day we will be laughing / together or alone” and then she asks: “In some other lifetime / would you pick me out again?” The aching is rarely far from the surface, but the honesty makes it veer towards being uplifting.
It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault is flawlessly, simply wonderful as she examines co-dependency. Emmylou Harris drifts into mind as Courtney looks at what’s happening to her: “I am still sensitive and stubborn / Still cry more than a person should / But if this feeling inside that’s changed / Like I have gone bad but the world is good / It must be someone else’s fault.”
The focus of If I Told is dating after being in one, lengthy relationship – Courtney’s started on New Year’s Day 2009 and ended on that date in 2019. The song highlights how vulnerable, understandably, she can feel with new people in tandem with her underlying acceptance that she needs to feel OK to be shaky and guarded.
From album opener, Burlap String where she wonders: “If I could go back / I’d pick you wild flowers tied up in burlap string / Tell you what you what you mean to me” to the closing track, Ships In the Night, the warmest of feelings are palpable. “I know you tried to reach me / I know you tried / I know you felt the same way / But the timing wasn’t right / Ships in the night.”
Old Flowers is beautiful and sensitive, embracing unerringly vivid lyrics and gently soothing melodies to evoke profound memories of love and the togetherness that’s gone – this is an outstanding collection that blooms gloriously.