The Lowdown: Old Flowers, Courtney Marie Andrews’ fifth full-length LP, is an album about heartbreak and growth. After a nine-year relationship that began at the tender age of nineteen, Andrews realized it was time for her to move on and grow on her own. In her own words, “Anytime I felt like myself, I was alone and wandering, and I knew that was a sign that it was time for change.” This is a tale as old as time for many, when you realize the love you share with someone cannot grow anymore. As Andrews puts it herself in the title track, “You can’t water old flowers,” meaning, you can’t force something to grow that’s already dead. Andrews understood it was time to take the reins of her life herself, as scary as that would be, and she does this with as much grace as possible on her new album. Her writing is raw, vulnerable, and passionate as she wrestles with the loss and grief that comes from ending such a large portion of her life. Old Flowers is her reckoning.
The Good: The focus on Old Flowers is Andrews’ outstanding lyricism. In each track, she lays out her emotions on a table for us, dissecting actual moments, actual thoughts that lead to her own personal growth following her breakup. In “Guilty”, Andrews shamelessly takes the blame for parts of her relationship that went wrong while in “Together or Alone”, she offers compassion, singing, “I hope that you find what it is you’re looking for/ I’m just proud to have loved you enough to ask for more.” The honesty on Old Flowers is palpable as she remembers things many would rather shove down deep into repressive memory. You can feel the sadness in Andrews’ voice for most of the album, but her tone turns to bittersweet by the end of the final track, “Ships in the Night”. She sings, “Hope your days are even better than the ones that we shared,” showing that she’s found the peace to move on and that this particular chapter of her life is finally closed.
Musically, Andrews hits highs from the beginning with the opening track, “Burlap String”. Her voice is a joy to listen to no matter how sad the material, and on top of the subdued instrumentals throughout Old Flowers, Andrews’ vocals linger long after listening. The piano-driven tracks “Guilty” and “Together or Alone” are the strongest on the album, putting the spotlight on Andrews’ raw power alone.
The Bad: This album is not one that can just be popped on at any given moment, which some might find troubling. As a mid-summer release, it’s a relatively slow and solemn one, and because of that, Old Flowers, while beautiful and sorrowful in full, can be interpreted as a bit tedious and repetitive. This is most noticeable towards the middle of the album. Once you hit the slightly up-tempo “It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault”, track eight on the album, Old Flowers regains liveliness as it soars to the end. While Andrews’ vocals are the high note on the entire album, 10 songs in a row with little instrumental break and tempo change can make it difficult to fully grasp in one sitting.
The Verdict: Old Flowers is a gorgeous, triumphant album of growth for Courtney Marie Andrews. She is mourning and healing all at once here, and while at times it can feel a bit tedious, overall she’s delivered one solid collection of songs. While her fifth album, this is the first where she’s not in her long-term relationship, which if anything, has proven that she’s capable of finding the strength, both mentally and musically, to carry on.
Essential Tracks: “Old Flowers”, “Guilty”, and “Burlap String”
Pick up a copy of Old Flowers here.