REVIEW: Courtney Marie Andrews – Live At The Tin, Coventry

LifeInASong_UK

Courtney Marie Andrews is currently mid-way through a tour of the UK before she performs for European audiences in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.

For some of the UK gigs she has supported The Handsome Family. The appearance in Coventry was a headline show. She was supported by local folk singer songwriter Izzie Derry. The Tin is a venue that’s operated by a community arts organisation and is located in a former coal storage building in Coventry’s 18th century canal basin. It reminded me of the Tunnels in Bristol which also has that ‘are we in the right place?’ feel to it when the sat nav has done all it can.

It’s always heartening to see when an event has the sold-out signs displayed, especially for someone whose profile in the UK remains relatively low. For a travelling musician the ability to fill a venue, whatever the capacity of that venue, is a huge boost to the CV.

Setting the scene for a moment, The Tin’s performance area wouldn’t win awards for aesthetics but that hardly matters. The low stage and mainly standing audience is within touching distance of the performers. Somewhat intimidating but I guess almost second home to someone who has forged her early career on ad hoc touring and impromptu bar performances.

Izzie Derry opened the show with a set that consisted of her own folk tinged compositions. A young artist who is managing to get herself around and about and will soon be supporting Olly Murs on his local shows. She has already released an EP and said that she was preparing to release her first album. It’s tough when the crowd are totally unfamiliar with your material but she received a good reception from an audience that might have been even more responsive had she made it clear that she was a local girl.

Courtney Marie Andrews, assisted by a pedal steel guitar player from New Orleans Louisiana, showed us why her star continues to rise. Her most recent album ‘Honest Life’ which was released in the UK in January was universally acclaimed for the quality of the songs on offer. Those songs were the mainstay of the set and were the ones that her audience wanted her to perform. The studio productions are based hugely on acoustic guitar and minimal instrumentation and they lend themselves so well to the live environment.

The greatest instrument is Courtney’s stunningly pure voice. There are times when you simply have to wonder why someone who actually sounds this good isn’t part of the big league. For now she is almost our hidden secret but that is destined to change.

A singer however is only as good as her songs and she writes damn good songs. ‘Rookie Dreaming’, ‘Irene’ and ‘Put The Fire Out’ sounded wonderful but let’s not be selective. The album was so enjoyable and steeped in lyrical imagery. There were many highlights. ‘How Quickly Your Heart Mends’ had the feet tapping and ‘Table For One’ with the impeccable slides, is pure country.

Her appeal goes beyond her awesome voice. She has a very engaging sweet personality and told us a few tales of home, especially her ‘jumping cholla’ story. The cactus that literally shoots its spines into you and the cactus that her mother decided to plant in her front drive in Pheonix Arizona! As she said, “the desert will always find a way to kill you”.

Another tale related to the locals that she encountered whilst working her keep as a bar tender in the US Mid West, ‘Dancing Debbie and Terry’ who appeared in her music video for ‘How Quickly Your Heart Mends’ and fooled director Josh Perrault into believing that they were very good actors rather than real characters.

Courtney made it perfectly clear where she stood on the Trump debate without “getting political”. She stated that she was so offended by the President’s anti-feminine views that she decided to write a song. It was one of a number of new songs that she performed and stated that she was already on the way to preparing a new album.

There are gigs when you just know that that the performer is enjoying it just as much as the punters. Her music is steeped in honesty and the little asides and smiles to her colleague on stage gave us an insight into her obvious pleasure that her UK audience were totally on board.

An encore was planned although it wasn’t necessary for them to leave the stage. A second encore wasn’t planned but entirely merited and received very enthusiastically by a crowd that universally relished this performance. I went as a huge fan of her album. I left with huge appreciation of Courtney Marie Andrews’ all round talent. There aren’t too many occasions left on this current UK tour to catch her performances but she will be back and I firmly predict hers will be the hot ticket.

Graham Wharton

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