Ten Bands re-issue their albums on limited edition pink vinyl, all for one cause. This is the 6th year for the initiative that has raised over $200,000 for Gilda's Club NYC, an organization that provides community support for both those diagnosed with cancer and their caretakers. It is named after comedian Gilda Radner, who passed away from cancer at the age of 43 in 1989.
May Your Kindness Remain is Courtney Marie Andrews' statement piece. The follow up to her critically acclaimed 2016 breakthrough album Honest Life, which made Rolling Stone's list of the "Top 40 Country Albums of 2016" and was The Bluegrass Situation's Album of the Year, May Your Kindness Remain is full of vivid depictions of complex people and places with all too common struggles. Much of the album deals with the psychological and relational impact of the unrealistic picture of success that is so embedded in modern American culture. There are no simple answers in these songs. There's just an acknowledgment of shared hardships and a call for empathy. Despite its characters' burdens, May Your Kindness Remain isn't downtrodden. There's a defiance built into its melancholy, a sense that even the most complicated problems are worth facing -- a sentiment that also explains why the album's music refuses to stay within any rigid sonic boundaries.
Gospel singer C.C. White adds backing vocals throughout, including on the stunning title track, a striking statement of purpose that blooms at the end thanks to layers of soulful harmonies. Andrews' own vocals are notably more powerful and soulful -- especially on the organ-heavy blues number "Border", with a ragged weariness that honors the immigrant's resilience in the face of blatant thoughtlessness and racism; and "Took You Up", a take on accepting love as a simple offering before any illusion of wealth or success. Her vocal performances reflect her recent listening habits, which include Motown and soul, as well as albums by the eclectic rock band Little Feat. They also point to her confidence and growing range as a live vocalist. "I subconsciously started incorporating more vocal stretching in my songs, just because of how fun that was," she says. "I've always been really inspired by soul singers. I can sing like that -- but I never really had before." May Your Kindness Remain finds Andrews at home in her restlessness, embracing her intuition. It has stretched her vocals, her sound and her songwriting to new depths and produced a brave record -- a record that is unafraid of addressing the complexities of life in order to find common ground and understanding, no matter how divided this world may seem.
Like [Linda] Ronstadt once did, Andrews now places supple, expressive vocal performances front and center in handsomely melodic compositions and folk-rock arrangements with soft country, soul and pop accents. The singing on Andrews' new album is especially emotional. There's a sob to her vibrato, and the notes she belts in her upper register are inflamed with feeling.
Andrews' voice dominates, but it doesn't overpower, and the arrangements shimmer like mirages around her. And for someone like me, someone who's been shamefully ignorant of all the music that Andrews has been making for all these years, it's a head-spinning discovery, a warm and gorgeous and fully formed piece of work. The kindness isn't just in the lyrics. It's in the way music like this can nourish you, can make your insides glow. An album like this can be a refuge.
The album's core instrumentation of acoustic rhythm guitar, alternately gritty and echoing electric guitars, organ, bass, and drums back nuanced vocal performances. The latter mix rugged soulfulness with a tenderness that never patronizes.
- Limited Edition Pink Vinyl LP - 500 Copies
- Ten Bands One Cause campaign
- May Your Kindness Remain
- Lift The Lonely From My Heart
- Two Cold Nights In Buffalo
- Rough Around The Edges
- Took You Up
- This House
- Kindness Of Strangers
- I've Hurt Worse
- Long Road Back To You