Published Jul 22, 2020The thorn of a rose has nothing on Courtney Marie Andrews's ability to draw pain. Old Flowers, which follows 2018's May Your Kindness Remain, is a heart-wrenching dedication to heartbreak that lingers long after the last track has died out.
Though the theme hardly covers new ground, Andrews's ability to map the innermost corners of a broken heart is truly one of this year's most vulnerable and touching tributes to love. Featuring only two other musicians, Twain's Matthew Davidson and Big Thief's James Krivchenia, Old Flowers is a starkly minimal and pared-down project that lets Andrews's raw emotions and lyrics take centre stage.
From the crushing weight of opener "Burlap String" where she croons "there's no replacing someone like you" to the wistful acceptance of "Ships in the Night" that gently sends off her lover with hopes of better days ahead, Old Flowers charts the Phoenix-born singer's journey to find her footing once more. Steeped in the deeply personal turmoil of Andrews's loss, the album's strength lies in its ability to turn her experiences into broader truths of human experience. The existential line of questioning Andrews asks herself on "Carnival Dream" pulls at the universal heartstrings of anyone who has suffered the end of a loving relationship: "Will I ever let love in again? / I may never let love in again." It is uncomfortable to sit with, but Andrews has never been one to shy away from the tough questions.
Overwhelmingly elegiac and mournful in tone, Old Flowers is heartbreaking in and of itself. It is emotional, redemptive and leaves an indelible mark on the listener. Andrews provides a raw, honest and unflinching look in the mirror of a failed relationship and finds herself; it's a story as old as time, but somehow told more achingly beautiful here. (Fat Possum)