Somewhere, somehow, between being born in Arizona in 1990 and moving to Washington in 2011, singer/songwriter/guitarist Courtney Marie Andrews managed to spend some time in Laurel Canyon in the early 1970s… at least metaphorically. And her new album, Honest Life, seems to be the result of bending that space-time continuum because, while she keeps company with some wonderful contemporary artists, Andrews beautifully and brilliantly channels classic icons on the self-produced set.
The marvelous opening track, “Rookie Dreaming,” makes for a great case — and character — study which also applies to the entire collection. With an unhurried lyrical cadence against a sparse sonic backdrop, she sets the scene of what has been: “I was a 1960s movie. I was a one night love story. I was a ‘You will never see me again.’” Here, the singer gazes into a pool of self-reflection, looking earnestly and honestly for the reckoning and redemption that she hopes will follow. Three minutes later, shuffling drums and stacked vocals have come and gone as she flips the script to what has become: “I am a 1960s movie. I am an unwritten story. I am a ‘When will I see you again?’” Musing her way through the evolution, she emerges with a maturity not often found in 25-year-olds, confessing the transgressions behind her, “I was too broke, too shallow to dive deep, too busy carrying the weight of everything.”
The throwback folk perfection of “Rookie Dreaming” sets an awfully high bar for the nine songs that follow on Honest Life, and Andrews delivers time and again on the promise it makes.