Loose Future

Courtney Marie Andrews

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Loose Future Review

by Mark Deming

Elvis Costello once said he went through a period when he realized he was deliberately bringing chaos into his personal life because he wasn't sure if he could write without it. Given that two of Courtney Marie Andrews' best and most celebrated albums, 2016's Honest Life and 2020's Old Flowers, were written in the wake of painful romantic breakups and made the hurt and sense of loss real and vivid, it's tempting to wonder if similar thoughts crossed her mind, and if she ever contemplated getting involved with someone wrong for her just for the sake of inspiration. Andrews wisely avoided such foolishness while creating 2022's Loose Future, but since it was written at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, and social and political chaos was the order of the day, she had plenty of other things to make her feel uncertain. Uncomplicated happiness doesn't seem to come easy for Andrews, and Loose Future is a largely introspective effort where she often weighs the balances between what she wants in life and what she gets. Sometimes the numbers work out in her favor, as on "Good Old Days," where she finds a man who might actually be right for her ("Big pink moon through the cypress trees/Tells me he loves me and I want to believe") and the similarly themed "Me and Jerry." But the title cut is the sound of a woman still figuring out where her life is going, "Older Now" explicitly declares she's looking for some changes and is throwing her plans to the wind, and "On the Line" and "Satellite" are about relationships that sure don't seem to be headed in a good direction. However she's feeling, Andrews expresses herself with a plain-spoken honesty that's artful without sounding fussy or pretentious, and her voice is the perfect match, clear and sweet but never sugary, navigating the fine line between joy and disappointment with skill and intelligence. With help from producer Sam Evian, Andrews has given these songs life with arrangements that lend the tunes shape and color without getting in the way, and though Loose Future lacks a bit of the grand-scale drama of Honest Life and Old Flowers, it's full of well-crafted songs performed with the skill and passion they deserve, and it's another worthy album from a songwriter who only gets better as she matures.

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