"It explores the struggles of working-class America" - Courtney Marie Andrews talks new album May Your Kindness Remain
After scoring widespread acclaim for her debut album Honest Life, folk troubadour Courtney Marie Andrews returns with her second record May Your Kindness Remain.
We spoke to her about making the album, its lyrical inspiration and why she thought getting the whole thing done in only eight days was a good idea...
When did you start putting together the songs for May Your Kindness Remain?
"I’m always writing. As soon as Honest Life was released, I started writing songs for this new record."
You did the album with Mark Howard, who has worked with country greats like Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris, what did he bring to the process?
"He brought a quick spontaneity that made for a very inspired process. We’re both very fiery in the studio, so we shot a lot of ideas back and forth. He prefers one whole takes of things, so that challenged us to perform our best."
You recorded the album over eight days, how did you manage to get it done in such a short period of time?
"We were very productive. It helped that we were able to get complete live takes of some of the tunes. But we were recording three songs a day from morning to night."
You’ve been a session player for most of your career, are there any musicians who would single out in being an inspiration to you in how they make records?
"I’ve always made records while being a session player so I sort of discovered my own process and way of making music. I like things to sound real, raw, and vibey. The people I’ve played for have taught me in many ways, but making records was a path of discovery I walked alone by just doing it over and over."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Do you think there’s a theme running through it?
"Absolutely. There are a lot of songs about loving someone while being depressed and our depressed economy. It explores the struggles of working-class America."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"We actually recorded 16 songs for this album, and only ten made the cut. The other six felt hard to make and that usually sways me away from releasing them. I like things to feel exciting. If sounds aren’t coming together and I don’t feel aligned with the emotion the song is conveying, I usually put it aside."
And which came together most quickly?
"They all came together fairly quickly considering our time restraint. ‘This House’ was recorded in two takes. That was pretty quick."
When did you settle on May Your Kindness Remain for the title? Were any other titles in contention?
"I settled on that, because I felt that summed up the final statement I was wanting to make. Through all the strife, mental illness, delusions of grandeur and wealth amidst poverty, may the action you have control of stay and guide you to a better life. I almost named the album Kindness of Strangers, but I didn’t feel it quite summed up all the songs in the way I wanted it to."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"I hope to perform the songs in a way that’s as genuine as when we recorded it. I hope to perform with a spontaneity and magic. I’m bringing most of the band that made the record with me."