Album Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – Leuwen Letters – Authentic, rootsy singer songwriter

Courtney Marie Andrews has the voice of an old soul. She sounds like she’s been on the road with Emmy Lou and Loretta Lynn for a while. Her songwriting is sophisticated in an understated way, and that’s a huge compliment. She delivers lines full of complex emotion as easily as a sweet and subtle melody. She’s the real deal.

Some might call her roots country, but really she’s just full of the sounds of America. A bit Appalachian, a bit Rocky Mountain, and a bit of her own thing, Courtney Marie Andrews has the rambler’s range and the troubadour’s sincerity. Her guitar work and softly-applied melodies will remind listeners of bygone eras in American music, bringing back floods of emotions.

The opener “How Quickly Your Heart Mends” feels like a traditional song, complete with the classic vibrato of a mountain singer. It’s about time and distance in a relationship. It’s about someone else getting over a breakup before she does. That said, it’s not cheesy or trite. Rather, it feels like the sonic expression of genuine heartache. Even the song’s structure – a bit traditional, a bit contemporary – shows that Andrews is the product of a complex-yet-grounded musical background.

The second track “They Say” has a Roger Miller plodding melody line with a more serious lyric line. “Maybe my mind was right all along” confirms the song’s suspicions of what others have been saying about her own identity. It’s about the conflict that humans feel within themselves about who you really are and who you want to be. It’s deeply philosophical and simultaneously comforting.

“Always Will” is one of the best songs on the album – probably the best. It puts listeners in mind of something John Denver could have written. It crawls and croons over themes of “forever” and complex emotions. It’s about the significance of a breakup that can only be significant due to the true love inherent in the relationship. But just because there’s love there doesn’t mean the relationship is right. Powerful and gentle, perfectly so.

“Near You” is a bit darker. It seems to be about unrequited love and that burning desire to be near someone who may not be reciprocating. There are really vibrant images of the people being together. It honestly reminded me of an earlier period in my own life and my own similarly vivid scenes. “I’m not asking for the moon or even the whole truth…” Been there. It’s great, but dark.

Whatever it is spiritually that made “Near You” so dark, its converse of light makes “Lifetime Company” an equally compelling track. The fingerpicking wanders up and down optimistic chords and the vocal sings like birds in the springtime. It’s a wish that someone would spend their life with her. The steel guitar gives it that extra meaning, highlighting the sincere emotion behind the lines. In some ways, it sounds like a track out of Rayland Baxter’s discography. That’s high praise, indeed.

The final track is dedicated to a deceased friend and holds the emotion of a eulogy. It’s well done and engaging, much like the rest of the album. The note on bandcamp claims this album is just a collection of songs while she works on her next album. Well it’s a beautiful little collection and seems to fit together nicely. Although the songs reflect different emotional statuses of the songwriter, it’s evident that they’re crafted by the same diligent, sincere soul. I can’t wait to hear more from Andrews. This is a must-listen album for fans of acoustic singer songwriters.

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