Courtney Marie Andrews Is Broken Hearted And Feeling Pretty Good About It

The breakout indie-folk songwriter embraces the vulnerability that comes with heartbreak on her new album, Old Flowers.

Breakup albums can go either way. Sometimes you get fiery, burn-it-all-to-the-ground kiss-offs, other times a dark and sorrowful funeral of songs. Phoenix-native Courtney Marie Andrews went for an emotional collection of heart-wrenching songs chronicling the end of a decade-long relationship, but while discussing Old Flowers, the young songwriter remains positive. 

While the album details the aftermath and recovery from a relationship’s conclusion, there isn’t any bitterness within the music. It’s nostalgic and soberly accepting. The indie-folk singer is talking to us over the phone while visiting her aunt just south of Nashville. “I’ve written bitter breakup songs before,” Andrews says while crickets loudly chirp in the background. “With love, it’s easier to say it failed when it ends. But I think of it as a triumph.”

Andrews has written similar songs about heartbreak, loneliness, and nomadic life over her previous works. Starting out as singing backup for Jimmy Eat World in 2010, Andrews began to come into her own as a songwriter, inspired by the likes of Joni Mitchell’s Blue and Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. Her breakthrough came in 2016 with the release of her album Honest Life, followed by the critically acclaimed May Your Kindness Remain (2018). 

Her music type seems to confuse the charts, making marks on Euro-Americana, folk, indie, and country lists. When asked if she considers herself to be a country musician, Andrews just laughs. “I never intended on being a country artist,” she says. “My grandpa was a true blue cowboy, but I’m the wrong person to ask.”

Old Flowers transcends genres with its vulnerable, soft songs that go through the stages of the grieving process. “Some days are good, some are bad. Some days I want what we had,” she admits in the album opener, “Burlap String,” detailing the rough adjustment to her new life.

“The music comes from something that was at full blossom at one time and was beautiful” 

Throughout the record, Andrews sings full of mourning and power, hurt but not completely broken. “I cannot be to blame for the story of this pain,” she sings, indignant on “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault,” a song where she struggles to grasp her new reality of what’s just ended.

The sequencing of the album’s songs were important to Andrews as well. “You’re stuck in this nostalgic feedback loop,” she explains as she reflects on the emotions behind the tracklist. “You want to go back and change everything at the start, but eventually with the album closer, ‘Ships In The Night,’ you call to wish them well.” 

The raw memories and feelings the breakup brought came at the beginning of 2019, and Andrews wanted to capture them as soon as possible. “I made an absolute point of writing the songs and not playing them until I stepped in the studio—no pre-production,” she says. “I wanted it to be super raw, super fresh, and every moment to be this magical experience.”

With a breakup album releasing and an uncertain remainder of 2020 on the horizon, Andrews really does want to reiterate that she’s feeling good about all of this. “The music comes from something that was at full blossom at one time and was beautiful. It may be gone, and it doesn’t mean horrible shit didn’t happen, but love was there and it existed,” she sighs. “And how amazing is that?”

Old Flowers is available on July 24 via Fat Possum.