Arts & Culture

Review: Old Flowers by Courtney Marie Andrews6 min read

Courtney Marie Andrews releases her comeback album Old Flowers on July 24, a raw, heartfelt, break-up album exhibiting the artist’s stand out vocals.

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American singer-songwriter Andrews worked alongside Big Thief/Bon Iver producer Andrew Sarlo at Sound Space Studio. Old Flowers only features three musicians – Andrews on main vocals, acoustic guitar and piano, Twain’s Matthew Davidson  (bass, celeste, mellotron, pedal steel, piano, pump organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, background vocals), and Big Thief’s James Krivchenia  (drums, percussion).  Andrews vocals are encompassed by mellow, subtly complimentary instruments throughout.

Using real life experiences to make art 

After listening to the album in full, I instantly thought of reminiscing on old times. Replaying memories, the good and the bad. Overthinking every moment of relationships and questioning why they all ended.

However, the album also covers rehabilitation and acceptance. Andrews shares the importance of moving forward. A break-up is only one chapter of your life and she expresses the importance of moving onto the next chapter in your story. The album unfolds; transporting us through her relationship, from the initial heartbreak, the frustration, feeling alone but then eventually focusing on herself as a priority.

Andrews says:  “Old Flowers is about heartbreak. There are a million records and songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. 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 okay with that, if it means truth.”

The lead singles 

Back in March, Andrews released the first single If I told, from her upcoming album.

The song is extremely minimal but cathartic and heavy in its lyrics. You can really imagine the pain of going through such a deep heartbreak. The song speaks of her past lover being her last thought. She questions: “Why did the universe draw me to you?”

A song that focuses on her initial regret, as she wonders if he regrets what happened. It is a song where you can sense the pain, the longing for the relationship to perhaps work out and go back to normal, even changing herself for him. But ultimately, she accepts being alone.

In April, Andrews released Burlap String, which opens the album. The tune describes the simplicity of the past, where “some days are good, some are bad, some days I want what we had”. The lyrics are lovingly dark as she wishes she could go back and say what she always wanted to. It’s a song about showing appreciation to the important people in your life; whether it be a lover, your friend or family. It resonates with anyone.

It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault

Next, is a more upbeat song with a heavy guitar riff and strong vocals. It is about being stubborn and blaming someone else for the breakup. It represents the phase where you miss the other person and forget about the bad parts of the relationship. Not considering that she could also have been the problem.

How you get hurt

The latest release, and final single of the upcoming album. Andrews says on Instagram the song is “a heartbreak saga, learning to love again, but afraid and unsure”. It discusses the theme of how letting your guard down, which is essential to love someone new, also leaves you vulnerableAlmost serving as a warning for the futurso she isn’t left heartbroken again.

An album that tells a story 

Listening to the album, there is a mellow tone throughout, and the songs collectively follow the same theme as they fit and flow well together. The songs are relatable even if you haven’t been through a breakup; as they can be transmitted to different aspects of life.

Andrews has an immaculate ability to write songs with deep meanings. She is lyrically advanced, and the accompanied instruments only strengthen this and the album’s purpose further.

Photograph: Sonic PR

Guilty

This speaks of her feelings of first falling in love and how it entirely consumed her, and she is unable to do or think about anything else.

Together or alone

This is a beautifully written ballad with the vocals solely accompanied by the piano and one of the longer songs on the album. It recalls the first-time meeting someone in a relationship, and despite the relationship now being over, he is still constantly on her mind.

She just wants them both to be happy regardless of whether that means being together or not. A song where there is an extent of acceptance, despite the overall feeling of being hurt. However, Carnival Dream focuses on looking to future relationships, questioning if she will allow herself to be loved again – aftebeing hurt.

Old Flowers

The album title song seems to be a turning point where she is gaining strength and learning to move forward. The lyric don’t see you that way anymore” highlights the acceptance and the importance of moving forward to a more positive future. Old Flowers makes you realise it’s okay to be alone and that you shouldn’t be trapped in the past.

The album title being the same as this song title suggests this is the outcome of the whole situation. That being alone can be positive and working on yourself can have better outcomes.

Break the spell

This is one of my personal favourites. Its calming variations of vocal and instrumental volumes create a lullaby tone to it. It seems to be a step backwards, as she seems to be falling for his ways again, saying she is hypnotised even though she doesn’t want to be. A hiccup, where you are trying to get the person off your mind, but you are still trapped under his spell despite wanting it to be broken.

Ships In The Night

This is a perfect album closer because it reflects on the relationship from what seems to be the far future. It is about moving on but hoping that he has worked on himself for a positive future. Hope that he finds love in the future and settles down but not with her. Overall, she acknowledges that the timing of their relationship wasn’t right, and she is ready to flourish alone.

The perfect breakup album, even if you haven’t been heartbroken

Old Flowers is an album that many can relate to, whether it be because they have been in a similar position, or it relays to different parts of their lives. Andrews expresses all of the emotions that swallow you up, where you feel lost as if it is the end of the world.

 I find it best to listen with earphones as you can hear different instruments and vocal layers through each earphone; creating a 3D listening experience, bringing the music to life.

Overall, it encompasses the four main feelings of processing a breakup: understanding the emotions, moving forward, learning to love again and finally, but most importantly, acceptance. The album is an enchanting lyrical story, with important life lessons entwined throughout.

Old Flowers is out on Friday, 24 July

Mansi Vithlani

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