Courtney Marie Andrews; from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, twenty-six years old and she has released one EP and four albums, with this one being her latest. Born in 1990 and she has travelled the world with her music, played with Jimmy Eat World, topped various charts and has made a gentle wave that seems to be taken over the world in its own way. The last time I heard this sort of noise was 'Raising Sands' by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, that took over the world by surprise and from the rumbling I am hearing it could be a similar case here (a slow build that is gaining momentum), but now I must judge for myself and see if that is actually the case.
01 - Rookie Dreaming
A song about possibility, about ambitions and ultimately it is all about love and things that could be. Slow and patient, beautifully mournful slide guitar, gentle piano and a set of passionate vocals in the chorus to drive that hook forward. It is a simple song in some ways, the message and the performance are very traditional and if you are expecting anything otherwise, well this might not be the song for you. It is a very good introduction to the album, one that is very gentle and touching at the same time.
02 - Not the End
A song about the possibility of losing a lover and asking for comfort and reassurance that the relationship is not over, it sounds mournful as a cold morning and there is a hunger to the lyrics. It reminds me a bit of Joanna Newsom in terms of style, but obviously in a Bluegrass style and whilst it is not my sort of thing, it is still performed well.
03 - Irene
A song about letting your heart rule and following your desires, giving everything your all and how trouble can sadly come to people when they least expect it. But there is a warning to the song, not to fall for your own ego and to watch what you are doing. It is a decent number, the hook is good and it does not over state its welcome.
04 - How Quickly Your Heart Mends
There is a boogie to this song, it has a feeling like it will be used for dancing and it has a steady beat. The subject is the loss of love and the perception of how it feels from the other side of relationship divide when you are the one being dumped. It is another number which I cannot fault, it is performed very well and it feels as if a lot of passion has been added to this song. It is one of the best on the album, but it does draw a tad close to being too self-indulgent in places.
05 - Let the Good One Going
Continuing the heart break from 'How Quickly Your Heart Mends', this time with all the energy and anger out of the music and replacing it with dark doubts and broken hearts, it is a heart breaker and it is incredibly slow. Not going to lie, really not a song that I enjoyed on a personal level; however, (as is becoming a sort of mantra for this album) I cannot fault the performance at all, it is just not something I would go out of my way to listen to. But you might be into this yourself - slow piano, slide guitars and gentle backing, a beautiful voice; there is an audience for this, but I am not that audience.
06 - Honest Life
The title track of the album continues the feeling of the last few numbers, the country is out in full force and you can feel the emotion that has been added to this number. It is that sort of empty that is designed to have your own thoughts absorbed and to make everyone reflective and wistful. But there is a resignation to this song, one which is wanting more, but the energy is not there. Simple and effective as usual, but for the faithful.
07 - Table for One
A song about single life, trying to move on and mapping out the events since the break up and still not quite getting over the ex. It has a little more to the music, a little spark to the pace at least from the instruments and it is performed very well. It is one of the best performances on this album for me with a mixture of confidence, hope and mourning; a bit like life to be honest.
08 - Put the Fire Out
The confidence is returning to the album here, wanting to be with the person who you love and to stay with them a while as the ghosts of the past are slowly fading to the background. There is a conflicting in the words at times, it is not obvious but there is a lingering feeling of hesitation to some of the words. Musically it has more energy to the performance, something that is a rare commodity in this style of music and it is not misplaced either.
09 - 15 Highway Lines
The penultimate song of this album is about distance, about not being able to someone out of your mind and the troubles of a long-distance relationship. It starts off light with a gentle guitar and it does gain a measure of pace towards the end of the song. But it is done so gently that you do not realise that it is moving along quicker that it began till right at the end; granted, it is still a slow, Bluegrass number that is hardly going to make the foot hit the floor, but in the boundaries of the album it is a fast one.
10 - Only In My Mind
There is danger in the past, in those dark parts of the mind where love is perfect and not in touch with reality. It is make believe and it is fantasy which makes this string lead number so mournful, as the realities of the broken dream come to the forefront of the world. It aims for the stars and it achieve it’s in a way, it ends the album on a high and very emotive note that shows the havoc that can be made in one’s own head.
For what this album is and the artist behind the work, I cannot fault this record as it is performed well, the production is very good and Courtney Marie Andrews has a lovely album. It is a very good Bluegrass album which I am sure will be a big hit in those circles and at thirty-six minutes, it does not outstay its welcome. I am not too sure if it is a cross over hit album, it does not seem to be heading in that direction for me and it is not the sort of record I would normally go for either, even if my heart was looking for a new flavour of Americana. But I cannot say it is a bad album either, as that would do a disservice to Courtney Marie Andrews; a good record, but one that is not for me.
7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out (if you are into this sort of thing)
Top track - Table for One
You can visit the Courtney Marie Andrews website here.
You can follow the activities of Courtney Marie Andrews on Facebook here.
You can stream Honest Life on Spotify here.
You can stream Honest Life on Deezer here.
You can stream Honest Life on Tidal here.