Review / Andrews a gentle voice that gets under your skin

Courtney Marie Andrews at Mareel on Wednesday evening. Photo: Zdenka Mlynarikova

AWARD-winning Americana singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews put on an excellent acoustic show at Mareel on Wednesday night, writes Zdenka Mlynarikova.

Coming all the way from America, her Shetland gig was part of the acoustic UK solo tour, which also saw her perform at London’s Union Chapel.

Andrews played songs from her latest album May Your Kindness Remain, some brand new ones as well as material from previous albums such as her breakthrough release Honest Lifefrom 2016.

Her voice is gentle yet powerful, getting under the skin with some of the topics most of us can relate to. With the tenderness of a Joni Mitchell and the voice of a confident country singer, she makes you feel like you landed some place decades ago. There is a great amount of originality in an overall feel and it’s no surprise she won an international artist of the year prize at the UK Americana Awards this January.

The gig was supported by Adam Guest, who is well known on Shetland’s lively music scene. There was an excellent link between these two performers and story. Guest has proven once again that he is not only a brilliant singer-songwriter but can also entertain the audience.

There is a wide range of topics in his repertoire, whether it’s songs about places, family or people in general. They always carry a valuable message and stay with listeners for a long time after. There is also something really calm and relaxing about the way he performs.

Touring since the age of 16, Andrews, now 27 years old, uses her songwriting to tell the stories from her travels and life experiences. Her early career as a musician mostly consisted of random jobs, busking and living on the road, never knowing what adventure will next the day bring and whether she’d spend a night sleeping under the bridge or in the house of someone famous. It was all about ups and downs, but as she said, those were one of the most careless and enjoyable days of her life.

Many of her songs refer to either specific places or just to being somewhere in between. While her previous album Honest Lifewas more focused on tour related topics, May Your Kindness Remainis a reflection of the different people she met throughout life, going as far back as to her childhood. Ironically, it was written while touring. It also brings up common struggles and the fake idea of success in American culture.

She played an emotional song from her 2017 album On My Page Paintings From Michael – about her uncle who was in prison and kept sending her paintings and later when they took his pencils and brushes away he even made little sculptures made from paper – until they stopped coming all together.

In the song, she is wondering what has he really done to be treated that way. All she remembers from her childhood are the paintings that bring up many happy memories. There is a deep meaning in Andrews’ songs underlined by her magically resonating voice that is guaranteed to catch the attention.

May Your Kindness Remain, the title song of her new album, is often the favourite among the audiences, while Rough Around The Edges– from the same album – has a really nice idea to it as someone who is “rough around the edges” is often a nice, soft person inside.

Neil Riddell of Ragged Wood Promotions said he would like to see Andrews perform in Shetland with a full band, a future gig that promises to be an amazing experience. Ragged Wood has already brought a number of successful bands such as Birds of Chicago and The Stray Birds to Shetland.