For some, being rated as ‘midway between Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston’ by the NME might be a little daunting, but bohemian Arizona singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews seems to take it in her stride. With her fourth record recorded in just eight days and released today, May Your Kindness Remain is an album countless fans and critics both sides of the Atlantic have been waiting for this spring.
Before the record is even playing, its intimately vintage artwork suggests it should be a classic record of the same era as Fleetwood Mac’s iconic Rumours; a loved heirloom of an LP passed between generations decades on, yet there is nothing outdated about Andrews’ signature. Despite being only 27, she has spent over a decade touring and producing self-produced albums, resulting in a polished sonic which sounds like it belongs alongside the likes of Joni Mitchell and Patti Smith.
hard to believe this is a record from 2018 and not a hazy summer of the mid-1970s
Title track ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ preludes the record through a track dripping with raw emotion as Andrews’ vocals carry the song over layered percussive instrumentals and striking guitar notes; its poignancy means it’s unclear to tell if “may your kindness remain” is a wish or a plea as the song builds up to its climax. In terms of tone, ‘Lift The Lonely From My Heart’ maintains the mood set by its predecessor, yet it’s crafted with such skill it’s hard to believe this is a record from 2018 and not a hazy summer of the mid-1970s. Consequently, it’s clear to see this is a record set to become an instant classic with fans of Andrews’ influences such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and their contemporaries.
‘Two Cold Nights In Buffalo’ kicks off a little more upbeat, showcasing the atmospheres Andrews is able to evoke and play with. Portraying ‘the gentrification of American cities’, the singer evocatively depicts a city of contrasts, where she notes “those yellow city lights accent the gutters and the rats” on her way to visit a loved one. With a brief but sparking guitar solo between verses, it’s proof Andrews is on a streak of success with the album’s tracks so far.
surprising for the listener to hear such honesty on such an idyllic record
As the record heads to the end of Side A with successive ‘Rough Around The Edges’, an honest self-critique of Andrews where she opens up and uses the song’s title to describe herself, it makes for a sincere and frank verbalisation of how the singer sees herself. It’s surprising for the listener to hear such honesty on such an idyllic record. ‘Border’ plays as though it ought to be the soundtrack to a blazing midsummer afternoon with its gorgeously psychedelic organ trails (perhaps a slight ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ homage), before ‘Took You Up’ returns to the slower, rawer echoes of the record’s previous numbers.
‘This House’ dabbles in the indie folky blend Andrews has sewn into the album until now, before ‘Kindess of a Stranger’ seeps in. Nestled in the core of the album, it’s a deeply perceptive ballad, of which Andrews has said that it was written ‘after some legendary musicians took their own life….and how even the smallest amount of kindness can save you’; it’s a breath-taking spin on the theme of depression.
Penultimate ‘I’ve Hurt Worse’ reflects on the idea of being in love with someone flawed, as “we love who we think we deserve”; it could be interpreted as another, more satirical account of Andrews projecting her worries about herself onto someone she loves. ‘Long Road Back To You’ is a strong album finisher and also the record’s longest track at just over six-minutes. Its repeated, almost ethereal vocals sign off the album perfectly, on a record which slips by blissfully but is one which will certainly have caught the attention of critics and fans new and old upon its release.