Raise your hand if you thought your life would look different at whatever age you happen to currently be? It’s an endemic condition, that. Maybe it’s from the movies that we watch as kids. Maybe it’s from the myths that we portray on social media. Whatever the cause, dang near no one is who they thought they’d be at this particular moment.
That’s the issue beating at the heart of Thirties, the new release from singer/songwriter Jill Andrews. Like most everyone else, she held fast to the idea that being an adult somehow meant arriving at a moment in life when everything comes together — the kids, the career, and the love. For Andrews, it did, then it didn’t. Or, maybe, it didn’t, then it did, then it still might because life is a moving target that comes at you fast.
Through it all, Andrews has had her songs through which to sort her emotions and her voice — one of the most pristine in the game — through which to express them. Co-produced by Andrews and Lucas Morton, Thirties captures it all in the most beautiful of fashions, though long-time fans will recognize that Thirties is more akin, sonically, to Hush Kids than The War Inside. It’s also not that far from the stunning mark hit by Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour.
Any which way it’s packaged, there’s a steady tenderness to everything Andrews does, even as it occasionally veers into the most delicate of defiance in the face of various circumstances. Similarly, even on songs in which she approaches her own heartbreak, you can all but feel the fact that her life’s trials and tribulations are exponentially heavier because kids are involved and, like most mothers, she will protect them at all costs.
Acoustic-based album opener “Sorry Now” runs that entire gamut in just over three minutes, from doubt and disappointment to resignation and rising again, while “The Party” stays put on the gorgeously sparse side of the line, letting “Gimme the Beat Back” have all the funky fun. As things move along, Andrews manages to roll from the rock edge of “Back Together” to the disco beat of “My Own Way” to the swelling pop-rock of “The Kids Are Growing Up” to the soft-touch balladry of “Wherever I End Up” without ever missing a step. And such is the journey of a life.