Courtney Marie Andrews has been shifting her sound to a more 70s down-tempo style for a while it seems. On her latest album “May Your Kindness Remain,” Andrews explores slower speeds and luckily her voice is up to the task of holding up the song on its own. Andrews’ voice draws a comparison to Neko case and has an occasional vibrato that brings Emmylou Harris to mind.
Still, Andrews’ most compelling moments come when the song is more fleshed out and up at a slightly turned up speed. Take the track “Kindness of Strangers.” The beat and beautiful piano lines know to fill those empty spaces between the singing and give the song backbone it needs. It definitely has a pleasant vibe that shows gettin’ by just like she sings throughout. The 70s style electric guitar knows just when to enter the mix as well. The intro riff is a great hook.
The album appears highly confessional in nature, as though we are listening in on Andrews’ most honest and emotional moments. It features vocals and piano and most often not much else. Andrews’ emotive voice brings new meaning to the songs. In particular, “I Took You Up.” In this song, Andrews describes the simple life of two lovers: “Karaoke on a Monday night / Television when we want to hide / Frozen dinners when money’s tight / Makin’ love on a laundry pile.” The life Andrews describes is both detailed and cute. It’s as though Andrews’ and her lover are merging into one and sharing what little they have. It certainly shows the appealing nature of such a simple life.
An even more spare song that connects to “I Took You Up,” “Rough Around the Edges” seems to be telling a similar story of a relationship but at a much earlier point in the story: “You find the beauty in the simple things / In desert sunsets and in movie scenes / I see the flaws and all the in-betweens / The past was cruel and it caught up with me”. In both songs, Andrews has admiration for her love interest. She distinguishes between the two different perspectives and explains her own growth as a person.
In addition, another upbeat number stands out. “Two Cold Nights in Buffalo” highlights her laid back A.M. country feel. It has the most sonic texture on the album and is a breath of fresh air compared to the more spare tracks. It features a little laid back 70s style electric guitar and background R&B singers. It bears resemblance to Tift Merritt’s upbeat numbers.
Andrews has taken a turn away from the country-rock sound of her previous album toward simpler vocally-centered approach. Andrews certainly has the pipes to keep the song afloat. I do miss the more fully fleshed out numbers so here’s hoping there’s more of them on the next one.
About the author: Jeff is a teacher in the Boston area. When not buried correcting papers, Jeff can be found plucking various stringed instruments and listening to all types of americana music.