AMERICAN country singer Courtney Marie Andrews should have been playing Pocklington Arts Centre tonight. Instead she will do so on…June 17 2021.
Courtney’s postponed date with a full band was to have been a showcase for her new break-up album, Old Flowers, originally set for release on June 5 on Loose/Fat Possum Records.
Phoenix-born Courtney, 29, is now rescheduling the album launch too, again in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Hello dear ones,” she says on the Loose website. “Unfortunately, I must push back the release to July 24th. In order to protect the safety of its workers, the vinyl manufacturing plant producing my record is temporarily closed for the time being, meaning it won’t be possible to meet the original release date.
“During these strange times, I think it’s important we work together, rather than trudge ahead alone and abandon those who have helped artists along the way. I can’t explain to you how much this record means to me personally, and I am so incredibly excited for it to reach your ears soon. It’s just showing up fashionably late, 2020 style.”
In the meantime, Courtney has released another taster from Old Flowers: the late-May single It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault, accompanied by a video directed by V Haddad and choreographed by Marlee Cook-Parrot, alias Marlee Grace, a writer and dancer who focuses on improvisation and self-expression.
Haddad reflects: “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault inspired us to create a video exploring being and becoming a woman and the world that surrounds her in this journey. Through dream-logic, we set out to interweave our characters through choreographed echoes and mirror moments of dance to draw out an ode to matriarchy, empathy, and sisterhood.”
This chimes with the overall theme of an album created in the aftermath of a long-term relationship ending, leading to Courtney’s most vulnerable writing on ten new songs that chronicle her journey through heartbreak, loneliness and finding herself again.
“There are a million records and songs about heartbreak, but I did not lie when writing these songs,” Courtney says. “This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with.
“It’s about being afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is alone, but OK with that, if it means truth. This was my truth this year: my nine-year relationship ended and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to know herself.”
Truth hurts, love hurts, but Courtney found writing Old Flowers “a safe place, a place of comfort”. “I didn’t lie in what I wrote because it was a very cathartic process,” she says. ”It was the only way I could channel what I was going through but I think sometimes people do lie in these situations because vulnerability is scary – and when you’re vulnerable you show your weakest emotions, and people are uncomfortable with that.”
By way of contrast, Courtney benefited from the confessional self-analysis. “Songs can predict your future or look back at what’s happened, and I didn’t realise that I felt the way I did until I started writing them,” she says.
“I definitely learned a lot about vulnerability: not hiding behind a character I learned so much about my relationship and goodbyes. Everything has a reason and we’re always searching for ourselves and for joy in our lives.This record is no different: when you reach the end of the tunnel, you reach the light and life goes on.”
Produced by Bon Iver and Big Thief producer Andrew Sarlo, Old Flowers was recorded at Sound Space Studio, a private studio in Los Angeles, with only three musicians: Andrews on vocals, acoustic guitar and piano, Twain’s Matthew Davidson, on bass, celeste, mellotron, pedal steel, piano, pump organ, Wurlitzer and background vocals, and Big Thief’s James Krivcheniaon drums and percussion.
“I think it may be only the third or fourth album to have been made there. Andrew had made a connection with the owner, and it’s just an amazing downtown space in the arts district of LA with giant windows and so many cool instruments in there,” says Courtney.
“Andrew and I had both decided the album needed to be made in a very intimate space with the fewer cooks in the kitchen, the better, and this place was perfect.
“A lot of the record was just Matt and me and I guess it was like a musical dance of communication between the two of us, and then James added those small moments of magic between our ‘dancing’.”
Old Flowers is Courtney’s seventh album, following on from 2018’s May Your Kindness Remain; 2016’s Honest Life; 2013’s On My Page; 2010’s No One’s Slate Is Clean; 2009’s Painters Hands And A Seventh Son and 2008’s Urban Myths.
“I definitely look at albums in their own right. I’m with Neil Young on that,” says Courtney. “Every album has its own journey. It would be a disservice and an injustice if I were to try to make the same record over and over again. The best artists are constantly re-born with each album.”
Old Flowers finds Courtney in full bloom. “The title means lots of things to me, one of them being that you can’t revive old flowers, but they remain beautiful even when they’ve died and they’re preserved.
“A friend of mine once said to me that flowers are timeless, and I can agree with that sentiment.”
Courtney Marie Andrews plays Pocklington Arts Centre on June 17 2021. For tickets, go to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.