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Courtney Marie Andrews – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 23/08/2017

Courtney Marie Andrews loves the Brudenell. The 25 year old songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona and the venerable social club in west Leeds have much in common. They share the same central characteristics of warmth, intimacy and charm. And they both deliver every single time.

Previously here as the guitarist in Damien Jurado’s band (when she also appeared as the support act), Andrews last played this venue back in February when second on the bill to The Handsome Family. That night “she damn near stole all of the headliner’s thunder” with a compelling eight-song set that laced melancholy with brittle beauty.

Tonight, though, Courtney Marie Andrews is playing her debut headline show at the Brudenell and to celebrate the occasion she has brought with her a backing band that comprises the quietly magnificent Nathan Shubert (keyboards), Alex Sabel (bass), William Mapp (drums) and Dillon Warnek (guitar).

Together the five musicians treat us to no less than 20 songs. There are songs about gentrification (‘Buffalo’), objectification (a breathtaking solo version of ‘Heart and Mind’) and dislocation (‘Table For One’ and ‘Long Road Back To You’). There are old songs (‘Woman Of Many Colors’ from her just re-issued 2013 album On My Page) and new songs (‘Two Halves’ and the deeply yearning ‘Kindness of Strangers’). Destined for her next album, Andrews describes the latter as being in the “pre-production stage”. If this is them in their embryonic form, then the finished articles should just about blow our cotton socks right off.

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In the six months since she last appeared here, Courtney Marie Andrews has evolved; she has moved on. From an erstwhile position of heartbreak and displacement, she seems to have found herself a far better place in which to just be. Whilst tears of sadness still permeate her songs, these tunes are now filled with a far greater maturity and emotional resilience.

On ‘Long Road Back To You’ Andrews’ voice positively soars as it traverses the lines that blur those edges between pure country and Southern soul.  And new single ‘Near You’ – which can be found on the bonus 7” record that will accompany the re-issue of her last album, Honest Life – hears her speak with great assurance about the joy of loving without expectation. Warnek’s scintillating guitar break on the song’s outro adds to its burning sense of positivity.

And then after an initial encore of ‘Rough Around The Edges’ – which is anything but and where Courtney Marie Andrews again performs just by herself – the full band reconvene for an elegant, joyful stroll through Bob Dylan’s ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’. For all that Courtney Marie Andrews loves the Brudenell, the Brudenell surely loves her even more.

Courtney Marie Andrews at the Brudenell Social Club was brought to us by High & Lonesome

Photo Credit: Simon Godley

More photos from this show can be found HERE

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