Courtney Marie Andrews is a bit old-school in the best way possible. The Seattle singer-songwriter has often been told her voice is a "throwback to the '60s," and there might just be a little Joni Mitchell in her. Andrews is currently touring with singer-songwriter Damien Jurado in support of her record On My Page that she released last year. Although Andrews has been a busy lady, she plans to release another album in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, however, you can catch her on tour in Europe with the possibility of some more U.S. dates.
We're excited to premiere her video for the song "Irene," which shows off Andrews' lovely vocals, her knack for songwriting, and providing lyrical advice. Paired with acoustic guitar parts, Andrews has the ability to capture listeners with her songs that sound like stories coming from a journal.
After catching Andrews live when she and Jurado recently passed through New York City, we chatted with the artist about her musical roots and her creative approach to telling stories.
How did you end up becoming a musician? Was this your path from the beginning?
I sort of fell into it. I always sang as a little girl, and I always loved to write as well. I didn't realize those were things you could combine until I was 15.
You're obviously a great lyricist. Where do the stories in your songs come from? They seem very personal.
[Laughs.] It's funny you say that because all the records I have out now, a lot of the songs on the record are very personal. I am a very observant person. I create these characters in my songs based off of real-life people. But as I'm writing this newer album, I'm getting into combining fiction and non-fiction: taking real-life places, but making up a story about them rather than making it so personal and journal-like. We'll see! A lot of the new songs won't be about my real-life.
That's a cool way of writing though. Your song "It's Okay, I Understand" is the first I ever heard, and it's so beautiful and personal. Mainly your lyrics are what drew me in.
I haven't heard about that song in so long! That's awesome. That was so long ago, but I'm glad you like it.
I caught you at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City with Damien Jurado. How's your tour with him going?
It's been great. We have another month of Europe to go. We're leaving in a month and a half. We feel like this has been the perfect fit support-wise. It's good to be touring with another great songwriter.
Who are some of your musical influences?
It changes month to month. Right now I'm in an old country phase. I've been listening to a lot of Hank Williams. And on the non-country side, Townes van Zandt and Woody Guthrie. I used to draw inspiration from newer indie songwriters, but I found that I love reaching back to older dudes.
Has anyone ever told you that you sound like Joni Mitchell? Have you ever gotten that?
[Laughs.] I get that frequently. I'm often told that I have a voice that's a throwback to the '60s. I get that quite a bit. It's always Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell comparison.
We're premiering your new video for "Irene." Can you tell me a little bit about what the song is about?
I wrote it about a woman who sort of has all of these trials, tribulations and troubles happening in her life. Throughout the song, there are bits and pieces of advice. I wrap it up with sometimes life doesn't really happen the way we want it to. I guess that's what it's all about; remaining confident and beautiful in all that you do, but knowing that sometimes life isn't how you expect it to be.
I love a song that gives advice. What's been the hardest topic for you to write about?
From my newest album On My Page, my uncle had been in prison my entire life. He was a painter. I wrote about him in "Paintings From Michael." That's really hard to write about.
Is there any artist you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Yeah! I can't really think of any off-hand. I think collaboration comes really personally to me. I think I need to develop a personal relationship with someone. It's really hard to be creative with someone. I'd love to if it were the right person!
On that note, have you and Damien sang together yet?
Yeah! He has a choir called the Silver Sisters Choir. It's a combination of local songwriter women in Seattle, so I've actually sang with him in that before. It would be fun to do a song with Damien sometime, but it's nothing I would put on paper that's going to happen or anything.
Speaking of your location, how has Seattle played into your singing and songwriting?
[Laughs.] I think if anything, it has helped me grow. There's a lot of great music in Seattle. I think I get better every day. It also makes you want to stay inside because it rains every day, so you can write a lot of songs.
I know you have a lot on your plate this year, but when do you expect your record to come out?
I definitely want something to come out late this year or early next year. It just has to be the right songs and the right situation.