Courtney Marie Andrews at KOKO
For one night only, the walls of 21st-century state-of-the-art venue KOKO resonate with country music mixed with some old-school rock references: welcome into the Americana world of Courtney Marie Andrews. If the start of the show is a tender, intimate introduction to her brand of country, towards the end, the singer and her band allow themselves to let loose and shake it all off. The songstress’ voice is strong and crystal clear throughout, always on note without the need for autotune.
Andrews has a quietly confident, lovely demeanour. She giggles occasionally and doesn’t talk much. But she doesn’t need to. Her music speaks for itself, and her audience knows that. There seems to be a silent pact between the singer and the people who have come to see her on a Tuesday night, waiting for her melodies to wash the dust of the day off them: a deep understanding and mutual, tranquil form of love.
Love is also the fulcrum of her new album, Loose Future, particularly the aftermath of heartbreak and the beginning of a new romance; the longing, the desire to rebuild oneself. There is staggering honesty and frankness in the way Andrews communicates her emotions through her songs, which is deeply felt.
She starts with Loose Future, a well-crafted, powerful ode to self-acceptance and diving into the unknown. The future is loose, meaning, the future is all hers, without constrictions, plans or restrictions; she can mould it as she chooses. The idea of rebuilding oneself, and opening oneself up to new opportunities, is then reinforced in another track from her latest record, the personal and candid Change My Mind: “I’m not used to feeling good / I’m not used to feeling right / Maybe you could change my mind.”
Carnival Dream is one of the highlights. A lyrically powerful, melancholic ballad, from Andrews’s previous album Old Flowers, it cuts deeply. The lead guitarist plays harmonic notes spaced out beautifully, with a really fast vibrato and a lot of reverb that echoes throughout the venue. The lyrics reside under the skin well after the end of the concert: “Then I lose you each night / In this carnival dream / And when I wake up / All I find are memories / Big crowds, laughter and games / I may never be the same.”
A word encapsulates the whole experience: tenderness. There are flowers embroidered on the musician’s clothes, and flowers on the keyboard and some of her microphones. This is perhaps a nod to her last album, and a way to visually show how her music has evolved and she has changed (while playing songs that prove that). She is tired of withering roses; she has had them sewn onto her dress instead. Towards the end of the gig, Andrews then takes a moment to appreciate how far she has come: “I’m just gonna look around and soak it all in,” she says. And the audience happily lets her.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Courtney Marie Andrews’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Loose Future here: