Albums of the week: Courtney Marie Andrews to Rick Parfitt
American singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews enchants with her fourth release May Your Kindness Remain, while the poignantly titled Over And Out, the final album by the late Rick Parfitt, also impresses.
COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS — MAY YOUR KINDNESS REMAIN
The grandiose American Dream is on its knees, whipped by a culture of “constantly chasing that bigger life”. Courtney Marie Andrews reached that sobering conclusion while penning an album that addresses what she considers the plight of her nation.
Andrews was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a fast-growing desert sprawl that sees almost 4,000 hours of sunshine each year, more than any other major city in the world.
But the darkness of depression pervades her world and Andrews’ gift for directing the daily struggle of life into song brings us to May Your Kindness Remain, the 27-year-old country singer’s fourth album.
It brings to mind the likes of Carole King or Linda Ronstadt. The stories told within — some hers, others she stumbled across while touring — tell tenderly and soulfully of a yearning for happier times. The remarkable manner of their telling petitions the listener to never lose faith.
RICK PARFITT — OVER AND OUT
The late Status Quo star had been working on his solo album for some time and the guitar and vocal parts were already recorded, with further sessions booked to finalise things. When this was unable to happen, other artists stepped in to help, among them Brian May and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse who, alongside Rick Parfitt Junior and producer Jo Webb, finished it off. Two versions of the album will be available: the full production version and the more raw ‘band mix’.
The songs clearly show their heritage. Some, as might be expected, wouldn’t be out of place on one of Quo’s earlier albums, Everybody Knows How To Fly being a prime example. Others, such as ballads like When I Was Falling In Love and Without You, hark back even further with a flavour of the 1960s.
This album stands as a memorial to one of rock music’s icons. It accurately reflects his influences and his loves but deserves success on its own terms.
GEORGE EZRA — STAYING AT TAMARA’S
George Ezra’s Budapest, the single that broke the Hertfordshire singer-songwriter in 2014, has already achieved the status of a classic, but perhaps overly worried about becoming a one-hit wonder, he seems keen to distance himself from that song’s downbeat charms.
Instead, Staying At Tamara’s is intended as a party starter, with almost all of the songs based on bombastic choruses and driving basslines: Paradise (the chorus of which cheekily cribs from Budapest) even has crowd call and response vocals.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t entirely play to his strengths. Softer tunes such as the opener Pretty Shining People and the Paul McCartney-ish Human stand out among the bangers.
SUNFLOWER BEAN — TWENTYTWO IN BLUE
Burn It, the opening track of New York rock trio Sunflower Bean’s second album, grabs you by the ears and the soul, rocking you in a way that can only come from the perfectly placed twang of guitars and singer Julia Cumming’s country-esque, ethereal vocals. This skilfully completed record is a satisfying journey that invokes feelings of heady summer days.
A sound like this has to be heard to be fully appreciated, but think of Sunflower Bean as thus: a little bit indie, a little bit psychedelic pop and a little bit classic rock ‘n’ roll, with bluesy and progressive elements.
There is much to admire from this threesome, who are all 22 years old, hence the album name Twentytwo In Blue. At some points, particularly in the Blondie-sounding fourth track Crisis Fest and the 1970s-flavoured anarchic beat of Puppet Strings, it’s hard to believe Cumming and her bandmates Jacob Faber and Nick Kivlen were born in the mid-1990s. You’d be forgiven for thinking they are old souls reincarnated... and perhaps they are.
THE MOODY BLUES — DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED LIVE
The original album was released in 1967 and the band performed the whole thing live in 2017 for the first time. The recording was made in Toronto and it is released as a two LP gatefold set that includes Question and Ride My Seesaw as extra tracks.
The sound is as lush as one would expect. The material itself though, may not have worn too well. In particular the poetry comes across as a bit ‘sixth form’. However, it is of its time and fans of the band, of which there are legions, probably won’t complain. That’s the thing though, this is album for the fans; it is unlikely that many others will bother.