Old Flowers is out today
Jessie Atkinson
14:25 24th July 2020

You can hear a lot in the works of your favourite artists. You can learn a lot from sitting down and just listening. But there are times when an artist needs to let you in on their secrets. In our latest edition of Title Tales, we video called Courtney Marie Andrews to find out more about her newest album Old Flowers.

A devastating heartbreak odyssey through the moment of parting and all of the painful and beautiful moments that follow, Old Flowers is a rare country record likely to connect with a mainstream audience. It's tremulous, brave and stunningly composed; the kind of record you'll play again and again. Here, Andrews takes us through it one title tale at a time. 

Gigwise: 'Burlap String' is about changing something in the past. What do you do when you get that urge?

Courtney Marie-Andrews: I usually write a letter and don’t send it. Or write a song.

GW: On ‘Guilty’ you sing “love is painful”. Can love be painful when things are good too?

CMA: Anything that’s growing is going to have growing pains. If it’s evolving then it’s painful as well. I think sometimes just being alive can be painful - and love is no different.

GW: ‘If I Told' makes magic out of things unsaid - is writing a song the best way to say things unsaid?

CMA: I certainly go through stages when my personal style of writing is more potent and generally that style of writing comes out quickly and in bursts. 'If I Told' was written in under ten minutes in a green room in a burst of inspiration.

GW: This album is about a very specific heartbreak. Can you tell me about the omens you mention on ‘Together Or Alone’?

CMA: There were many omens. The grey owl that dropped dead at our feet New Year's Day of 2018...and the strangest part about that omen is that an entire year passed, and on New Year's Day of 2019 we said goodbye. It felt like a real strange and precise omen. Sort of like a warning.

There were lots of internal signs as well that lead to the demise and the closing of the chapter, and the book.

GW: The subject of ‘Carnival Dream’ is fascinating - please can you tell me about the story behind this song?

CMA: I woke up maybe four months after my break up in the middle of the night and had this dream where I was searching for my ex at a carnival, and I couldn't find him. My piano at the time was in my bedroom, and I walked two feet over to it and wrote 'Carnival Dream' at like 3 or 4am.

The next afternoon I get a text from my ex saying 'let’s catch up' and so we go and have a drink. It was very emotional and complicated, and at the end of our time he said: 'the hardest part about this is that I have this reccurring nightmare where I can’t find you at a Carnival - no matter how hard I try.'

We had had the same dream where we searched for each other and couldn’t find each other. It was at that moment that I was like ‘I’m pretty sure humans are embedded in each other more than we realise.’

GW: ‘Old Flowers’ is beautiful imagery: why and how did that metaphor come to you, and why did you choose it for the album title?

CMA: I felt like it summed up the whole record in terms of you can’t revive what’s been gone and if your love becomes like old flowers in a vase, no matter what you do you can’t get it back even if you want to. But also - old flowers - even when they’re gone are some of the most beautiful things. That’s sort of how I view love.

There’s an incredible Jack Gilbert poem called Failing and Flying and it’s basically just how I look at love. It ends sometimes but that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed and it can't be something to be proud of. I feel that about old flowers: they’re a metaphorical representation of love. Even when they’re old and dried and you can’t get them back, there’s still something to be gazed upon with beauty and I look at my nine-year relationship like that.

GW: ‘Break The Spell’ is about magic - do you believe in magic?

CMA: Yeah I believe in Earth Magic. I just believe in energy and the universe - for fear of sounding like a hippie (!) but that’s how I feel internally. I’m a very superstitious person and I’m very spritiaul. My spirituality comes with nature and earth and energy. I believe in magic but not the kind you would see in Harry Potter. I believe in beautiful coincidences and serendipity, and all of those fall into the bag of magic.

GW: ‘Someone Else’s Fault’ gets more upbeat - what stages of emotion did you experience in the break-up other than sadness?

CMA: It always falls into the five stages of grief. When I had done things for myself; in those moments when I was very close to discovering the self I had left behind were moments of joy and revelling in my own version of freedom, which often involves travel or expression.

GW: And then there’s ‘How You Get Hurt’ - do you think getting hurt is worth it?

Absolutely. What is life if not to come out of the dark and see the sunset or the sunrise? It’s all worth it. Absolutely. Love is worth getting hurt.

GW: You talk about timing on album closer ‘Ships In The Night’ - is timing a bitch or a blessing?

Both! Depending on what the outcome is. It’s a bitch blessing.

Old Flowers is out now. Find out more about Courtney Marie-Andrews and her life in lockdown here.

Photo: Press