Along with dozens of other artists, Courtney Marie Andrews had hoped to be performing live in this coming weekend at the Newport Folk Festival. Of course COVID-19 got in the way, but you can still see her play in a live stream, as part of the “Deer Tick and Friends” event happening Saturday at 8:30PM.
I spoke with Andrews last week, a few days ahead of the official release of her new album, Old Flowers. “I’m hanging in there, I’m excited to release the record, its been keeping me busy,” she shared.
Andrews is looking forward to the airing of the Deer Tick hosted “In Your House Party” Saturday night, which also includes Folk Festival regulars Leon Bridges, Sharon Van Etten and The Tallest Man on Earth.
“I’m really excited, lots of friends are playing it,” Andrews noted. “We just recorded the session – myself and Matt Davis, who played on the record. That was really nice, to be in a room with someone playing music again.”
As for her life over the past months, “I’ve been doing a lot of work regarding this record and that’s been keeping me pretty busy,” she explained. “Also I’ve been working on my first collection of poetry which I hope to release next year. It’s hard, but I’ve been trying to stay focused on these creative tasks.”
That well-reviewed new release, Old Flowers has already sold out the first pressing in the vinyl format. (No worries, more are on the way.) The album has a polished country-folk sound, with influences from Hank Williams to Linda Ronstadt. Andrews explained how the album came together.
“I went through lot of changes in 2019 … I moved across the country from Seattle (to Nashville) and split with my partner. I was making a lot of new friends and I was touring more than ever, in a bigger way. There were a lot of changes – when you’re with somebody that long, its hard to really talk about it with anybody, its like they’ve become your primary source of reflection and conversation. The songs are my way of talking about it. Sometimes I’m talking to myself in the songs, sometimes to my ex-partner, sometimes reflecting universally. It was part of the process that year of really understanding myself.”
Andrews acknowledged feeling emotionally exposed on the album. Confessional ballads like “How You Get Hurt” explore that vulnerability. Her lyrics say it best: “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?/Do you wish that I would stay? If I missed you, I wouldn’t tell you/Best not to give ourselves away.”
“These songs just kind of came out very quickly, all in one. With this particular record, oddly I wasn’t really inspired by music when I was writing it, I was inspired more by poets like Mary Oliver, Jack Gilbert and Joy Harjo and those types of people.”
She’s played Newport twice, and has fond memories. “It means so much to me. The pure collaborations that happen and the community of people. It’s an event that feels very close to a lot of us. It’s so well curated, all the best people are on it every year. There’s always some sort of magic or surprise that happens.”
She continued, ”Most of my favorite artists have played there or had historic moments there – Bob Dylan and Odetta, Mavis Staples, Joni Mitchell, an endless list of people that I look to… There’s a reason that it’s a magical place. It’s pretty incredible that they’ve maintained that. A lot of those kinds of festival change over the years. They’ve really kept the spirit of great music there.” We concur.