BEST OF 2017: 20. Courtney Marie Andrews ‘Honest Life’

Although technically a 2016 release, this was picked up for a full release back in January of this year so I’m counting it. I make the rules for my own countdown anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. I could have three number ones, if I wanted to. And Mojo have got the definitely-a-2016-release A Tribe Called Quest album in their top five, so there are worse offenders out there. Anyway, this is Brexit Britain, so don’t go expecting things to make sense. Where were we?

20cma

Courtney Marie Andrews has an incredibly powerful voice and it is undeniably the star of the show here, elevating some fine songwriting to something altogether special. ‘Honest Life’ is pretty much straight up country-folk, dealing in the primary colours of emphatic acoustic guitar and plaintive piano for the most part. Opener ‘Rookie Dreaming‘ sets the evocative landscape for what follows, proclaiming “I am a 1960s movie, I am an unwritten story, I am a when will I see you again?” It might lack something in grammar, but it makes up for it with its sense of absence.

How Quickly Your Heart Mends’ hinges on a fabulously emotive, simple and repetitive chorus while the aching harmonising on ‘Let The Good One Go’ dispenses with the need for much musical embellishment. ‘Irene‘ implores the titular character to go off and get whatever she wants rather than expecting the worst while ‘Table For One’ has a wonderfully hushed chorus, explaining “‘I’m a little bit lonely, a little bit stoned, and I’m ready to go home.” When the voice is this prominent, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the lyrics and they paint some engaging pictures. I can’t quite recall how I first happened to hear this album but it’s one that flies by, conjuring a mood and commanding your attention. As the manic nature of day to day existence starts to wane with the end of another year, few things will soundtrack the descending calm better than ‘Honest Life’.