With Loose Future, Courtney Marie Andrews treats us to her sixth album. Criminally, there will be lots of you who still haven’t heard of her or spent time with her beautiful music. It might be time to change that. As with many artists who exist on the borders of the mainstream, it can be interesting to try and work out what it is that holds them at a distance from the acclaim and recognition they deserve – but in the case of Courtney, I think the answer to that puzzle is quite clear. She exists in an interesting position that might make it hard for her to reach a larger audience at times – for those who don’t like country music, she might be too country – for fans of country, she isn’t country enough. But anyone who needs to so neatly box up their musical tastes is missing out on a set of albums full of beauty, truth, and fantastic storytelling. Three traditions that definitely continue into this latest work.
The storytelling I’ve already mentioned is perhaps the most impressive aspect of Loose Future. To be more specific than that, though, I’d say that the thing that really stands out for me is the way that Courtney can suck you into the world of her songs with a set of meticulously crafted lines – much like a novelist who spends months trying to write the perfect opening sentence so that readers will pick their book off a crowded shelf. When the title song opens with ‘In the back seat of his car/Head out the window, eyes to the stars/Big, big moon through the cypress trees/He tells me he loves me, and I wanna believe him’, you immediately picture them together in the vehicle, the scene vivid in front of your eyes.
On album highlight ‘On The Line’, when Courtney sings ‘Room above me, they’re having sex/With the TV on to drown out the noise/That’s just like this world we’re in/To cover up these truths with the void’ you can feel yourself in her position. And ‘You Do What You Want’ is littered with similarly powerful lines, a song that repeatedly makes you feel that memories such as ‘You and I in the corner of a room, at an awkward party/Where no one was talking/As you were walking to disaster’ are your own. It’s an incredible skill that really brings these songs to life.
And these fantastic lyrical moments all exist over Courtney’s lushest sounding music so far. I’ve seen some other early reviews saying this album is like the sound of the summer, but I can’t agree with that. For me, this album belongs on a crisper autumn evening, the production and instrumentation making it feel perfect for an night of contemplation looking out of the windows at the trees with a mug of something warm and boozy in your hands. But I do understand what those ‘summer’ pushers are talking about. There is a brightness to the record that hasn’t always been there in Courtney’s music, an optimistic and happy feel to both the words and music that make this stand out starkly from last album ‘Old Flowers’. As if the songwriter is in a much better place these days.
But that doesn’t mean that her traditional melancholic feel has gone. A stunning track like ‘Change My Mind’ tells us that this artist is ‘not used to feeling good/not used to feeling right’, that the person she is singing to has ‘given me no reason not to trust you/but I keep looking for new ways to be let down/trying to break new habits isn’t easy/when I’m addicted to losing what I’ve found.’ And for these lyrics sum up where Loose Future sits. It’s a record that walks a tightrope between her old habit of melancholy and a new found hope, between joyous summery steel guitar and sombre recollections of relationships that didn’t survive. But in this uncomfortable middle ground, Courtney Marie Andrews has managed to make some of the most inviting music of her career so far.
Words by Fran Slater