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GEM ANDREWS —NORTH (Music Square Music)

Berlin-based, Liverpool-born singer-songwriter and a affinity to the North East of England Andrews has come a long way since I first heard her play support at a Jumpin’ Hot Club gig in Newcastle. Andrews’ songwriting has always impressed, but her vocals and poise has now also become a wonderful source of joy, as a greater beauty has joined the depth and passion of her work. 

Ever humble, as she learns her trade Andrews’ latest album offers the honesty and love for her fellow earthlings. The warmth of her reflections on life could well do with the contented found in her own life, and it doesn’t hurt to have a wonderfully talented set of players (in support) perform music sympathetic to her lyrics. 

Players on the record include Nicky Rushton, Sarah Van Jellie, Bernard Wright, Susanne Lambert (from the group, Mush), Chris Hillman, Ed Blazey plus harmony vocals from Sue McLaren and Charlie Hardwick. Sharp and clear throughout, Andrews has here a wonderful piece of work, the love and care put into the album is there for all to see, and likewise treasure.  

Andrews constant weaving of pretty melodies and evocative lyrics ensure the album eases by seamlessly. With more than its share of highlights, the listener is able to let their mind be taken to places she speaks of and on their return feel refocused. 

Songs topping my list include “Sing Your Song”, sweet sounding “Bare” and with a dash to it “Lungs”. Plus the spare and at first gentle “Feather & Skin”, and with it plied in tasty helpings of piano and relentless rhythm it dips deeper than most on the record (its orchestrated surges are of a kind to captivate any audience). On showing much artist flair, Andrews has also put music to Julia Darling’s poems, “Two Lighthouses” and with a gently swaying melody “Straight Lines”; the harmony vocals are as good as any on the record, and that says a lot!

On utilising more swirling pedal steel, and mandolin a country feel swamps genial playful ballad “Two By Two”. While with a greater edge still the listener can’t help but be blown away by Americana gem “Medicate”. Her vocals and instrumental work is top class, and if you are a fan of pedal steel you will droll over the playing. On returning to a more artful style as acoustic guitar, piano and vocal harmonies are her worthy partners Andrews performs a beautiful “Carole”. Before finally calling it a day with superb aversion of Kate McGarrigle’s jaunty, happy go lucky ditty “Come A Long Way".

      Maurice Hope 

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April 2018

Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
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21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
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Mama Bird Recordings
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
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20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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