Ahead of her UK March tour, the Phoenix-born singer-songwriter reflects on Loose Future, what makes a pop album and the beauty of uncertainty
At the end of Old Flowers, Courtney Marie Andrews’ 2020 full-length, the Phoenix-born singer, painter and poet left us with a postcard, steeped in heartbreak and dispirited acceptance. “From this Arizonan desert to your cold English shores/ I’m sending you my love, nothing more…”
Two years later Andrews returned with Loose Future, her most vibrant album yet, seeming to show a heart that had healed, if not one that was a little hardened by the wisdom that comes from experience. “The future is loose, not set in stone, and that’s a beautiful way of looking at life”, she tells us from her Nashville home just days before returning to the UK to play dates at the likes of Brighton, Newcastle and London.
A weight seemed to have been lifted on Loose Future. Half a year on from its release, do you think the record has been a successful exercise in self-care?
I feel like there are harder years and better years. It’s just kind of this cyclical thing and it’s a constant reminder, you know? And so I’d say that it’s ever evolving, but it’s never a direct resolve.
You seem to be very in tune with nature and its benefits, taking a trip out to the Arizona mountains at the end of ever year for example. Do you miss that connection when you’re touring?
Yeah, it’s definitely harder, but we try. I feel like we always get at least one good hike in on every tour. Luckily, I tour with people who also really like to hike, so we all really enjoy trying to find that if it’s available.
But there are other ways. I’ve actually started writing songs during soundcheck, which has helped a lot with feeling grounded and feeling connected to my creativity. And as far as feeling connected on tour, a lot of us in my band try and walk every day. We all have this health app on our phones, and we try and get to 10,000 steps. That’s our band goal every day. I feel like really actively trying to walk keeps us all connected, and not so much in the grind of the tour, you know?
That said, for the first time you had a whole summer to work on Loose Future, do you think anything changed accordingly?
Well, time really was the huge thing. I’ve never had so much un-bookended time, you know? Usually it’s always like, Okay, well, I have these three days, and then I have to be in whatever place for this or that. And it was the first time since childhood that I got months and months of uninterrupted time to create, which was really beneficial. Once I got into the rhythm of really creating every day, it was absolutely mind-blowing. I was like, Oh, you know, we actually need a lot more time as creatives to to go deeper!
I think I’ll always dedicate big chunks of time to creativity, and I’ve already kind of started incorporating that in my world… so yeah, that’s definitely something that’s gonna stick with me.
Loose Future has connotations of potential and optimism, but it’s also maybe a warning, right?
I think when you start, when you’ve been in a couple of relationships already, and when you’ve been in some that maybe you even think might last forever that then don’t work out, you kind of have… I don’t want to say a jaded view, but you have a realistic view. A view that it’s possible to fall out of love, and for things to change and for people to change. So I think the album is a reminder of that. Nothing’s guaranteed, you know? Everything’s pretty impermanent. But oh, impermanence to me is what makes things more beautiful. To me that doesn’t have a negative connotation, it’s more of like, wow, it’s not going to last forever, we better cherish this right now.
You set off wanting to make a pop album. What do you think made this more of a pop record where Odd Flowers or your previous albums weren’t?
I leaned into simplicity. You know, it’s funny, because my version of a pop album is so far from what probably most people think is a pop album! But, yeah, I think I just wanted choruses you could sing along to, because I love that. I love a melody. I love being able to sing along to a chorus. So I really wanted to incorporate that and also to not be afraid of more fleshed-out productions. You know, in the past, my records had been cut on the floor, live as a band, very raw. And on this record most of the takes were still live, performed by me and a guitar, but they’re just a lot more fleshed-out, production wise, than I’ve done in the past.
Tell me about recording with Sam Evian and what he added to that?
Oh he’s brilliant. I’ve never received mixes back and I’ve had little to no notes. He’s really got an ear for sound in a way that is very rare. I absolutely adored working with him. It was pretty much Sam and I on the whole record, just going back and forth playing different instruments and coming up with different ideas together. And then we brought Chris Barron in at the end. So a lot of it is him and I just kind of feeding off each other’s ideas.
His place is pretty ideal, pretty beautiful. I mean he has a river running right through their house that we’d swim in every morning… Yeah, I couldn’t speak highly enough of him!
You’ve been going for over ten years now, and the last album felt like it very much marked a new stage in your life, much in the way that, say, Honest Life did six years ago. Do you see your own career like that, in different stages?
I do kind of feel like my albums mark the chapters of my life. I really do. I write them in specific time periods and they generally reflect when they’re being written. That’s often a very clear view into that specific chapter.
But yeah, I mean as far as career highlights, I was just saying this the other day… I mean, to do this at all is a highlight. It’s a luxury to be able to travel around and sing songs. Obviously there’s the industry highlights that somebody might mention, but the ones that stick to my mind are always the letter from the widow, or somebody saying they put ‘If I Told’ on a wedding playlist, you know what I mean? Stuff like that is always like, Wow, this feels visceral, I’ve made a change or made a mark in somebody’s life. Something that could connect them. Those are the moments that I feel like are always mind-blowing to me. Whoa, that that is wild. Like, this song was a part of somebody’s life, you know?