Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain review – Americana on the brink of eruption

(Loose)

A couple of minutes into the title track of Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album, a stately ballad suddenly explodes with guitar: not noise, or shredding, just a simple but massively reverbed solo, the notes teetering on the edge of feedback. It sounds like a nod towards rage, even as Andrews pleads for tolerance in the new America: “If your money runs out / And your good looks fade / May your kindness remain,” she sings, as the rumble intensifies beneath her. That rumbling guitar – as if Phil Spector had been an Americana producer and decided to create the “wall of country” – crops up again and again on May Your Kindness Remain, giving it an oomph and a distinct identity among the many excellent Americana albums of recent months.

It’s one of the elements – along with the organ and Mark Howard’s spacious but focused production – that gives the album an unusual intensity. May Your Kindness Remain sounds forever on the brink of eruption – no shucks-we-were-drinking-beer-in-your-truck here. Andrews has said the theme of the album is coming to terms with depression, which you can sense without even listening to the lyrics.

Amid the misery, though, there is a search for moments of levity. This House is a long way from Madness’s house or Graham Nash’s house – “Empty cans on the counter / And the laundry’s never done,” Andrews sings, detailing the shortcomings of the surroundings, even as she insists “this house ain’t much of a house, but it’s a home”. May Your Kindness Remain confirms Andrews’ rise. It’s a brilliant record, proof that old forms can still be timeless.

Contributor

Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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