COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS MAKES HER BEAUTIFUL AND TRANSCENDENT RETURN TO SCOTLAND AT EDINBURGH'S SUMMERHALL
From beginning to end, the intimate authenticity of Courtney Marie Andrews' live performance is astonishing. There's a rare, indefinable quality in the room; it's warm, it's dark, and somehow the stage and crowd feel closer than close. It's one of those instances where artist and audience are engaged in a perfect symbiosis that results in transcendent gratification. The experience seems not to be confined within the walls and high, angular ceiling of Summerhall's Dissection Room, in fact it seems not to take place within any defined space or time.
Opening the show is Virginia native Twain, aka Mt Davidson, with a softly spoken stage manner that belies his intensely emotive songwriting and delivery. Reminiscent of early Bright Eyes or Jose Gonzalez's more plaintive moments, he offers up his gentle soul to those gathered and is received with a mix of tender patience and awe. The audience is drawn in to his memories of youthful folly and reflections on the daily challenges of living in America right now. It's a brief but sweet encounter that leaves the heart tethered slightly to the final note, hoping to hear just one more song for closure.
Since her last visit to Scotland, Courtney Marie Andrews has released an album of overwhelming lamentation with patches of hope and humility. May Your Kindness Remain is an externalised view of loneliness, longing and regret delivered with heartbreaking conviction. Leading off where that album ends, the sorrowful hymn-like 'Long Road Back to You' articulates precisely the solitary troubadour lifestyle Andrews has been living for the last decade. There's an aching distance in her relationships with both people and places, and a weariness at independence. 'Two Cold Nights in Buffalo', 'Kindness of Strangers' and the bluesy 'Border' each speak to the sense of community, co-operation and respect that underpins so much of Andrews' songwriting, imbuing her music with an honest and defiant nostalgia.
In the haze of golden orange lights and barren desert imagery that emptiness and longing become physical sensations, resonant in the rumbling thunder of bass and drums in the confessional 'Near You'. It's getting very warm now. When Andrews moves to the piano for a set of three songs the intensity of emotion is almost too much to take.
Two lines into 'This House' sees the show halted dramatically as a man in the crowd faints right in front of the stage. After a brief interlude for medical assistance (we're assured the man is alright, much to everyone's relief) Andrews resumes her set and runs through song after song with minimal explanation, leaving her music and lyrics to do all the talking. Gospel-infused 'May Your Kindness Remain' is as much a life lesson as any parent, ex-lover or friend could wish upon the object of their affection; everyone should be reminded that "a kind heart don't cost a dime" now and then. It's the perfect message to close out the set.
Courtney Marie Andrews has been called an 'old soul' on account of her wise-beyond-her-years songwriting, and it's true there is a vintage familiarity to her. That angelic white dress worn on the cover of May Your Kindness Remain, and at every show of this tour, possesses sleeves fashioned out of your great grandmother's lace curtains, and her comfortable conversation flows as if from a childhood friend. But beyond that she crafts deeply relatable, mature and endearingly human songs. She is often compared to classic country and folk singers of the 60s and 70s such as Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, but based on her recent albums and shows like tonight's, generations of female artists will one day aspire to be likened to Courtney Marie Andrews.
"All I've ever needed was a little time to grow" she claims on 'Honest Life' and tonight the young singer songwriter demonstrates admirably just how much she has.
SETLIST - | COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS - SUMMERHALL, EDINBURGH - 19.04.18
- Long Road Back To You
- I've Hurt Worse
- Two Cold Nights in Buffalo
- Table for One
- Near You
- Rough Around the Edges
- Let the Good One Go
- This House
- Kindness of Strangers
- How Quickly Your Heart Mends
- Sea Town
- Took You Up
- May Your Kindness Remain
- Warning Sign
- Honest Life
- Willin' (Little Feat cover)