I dare say there is a quiet revolution in female folk singers happening. Even among such lights, Courtney Marie Andrews sways to the beat of her own drum and has for some time, from her 2010 debut No One’s Slate is Clean to 2019’s groundbreaking May Your Kindness Remain. Now, Andrews is on tour in support of her album Old Flowers.
To me, the best folk artists seem to battle with themselves, connecting with that authentic, shining, internal spark. Andrews’ connection with her spark results in a resilient beauty. Opener “Burlap String” sets the tone here. It’s softly sweet, with subtle longing wrapped in the scent of wildflowers, country lilt, and slide guitar. The song blurs genres with its perfectly simple front porch feel. “Guilty” steps in as a piano-driven siren’s song. Oozing emotions, Andrews sings like she owns the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Songwriters like Andrews relish the poetry of their art form. “If I Told” is that wondering whisper many tentative lovers think to themselves. The evocative sonic disruptions throughout represent what we feel when our heartbeat overtakes fear. The heartfelt “Together or Alone” is a pandemic and/or self-actualization anthem. “Carnival Dream,” born of devastating pain and loss, reflects the drum we are all marching to and attempting to escape from.
Much like Shakey Graves’ Can’t Wake Up reclaimed his freedom to be more than who his fans wanted him to be, Courtney Marie Andrews’ Old Flowers firmly claims her role as a prominent voice of women in folk music. It’s fluid, ever-blossoming, and reaching for the sun. —Lisa Whealy