The Black Box, Belfast.
2nd December 2018

Courtney Marie Andrews will be a huge star. In a world where success is judged by the size of the video screens on either side of massive stages, Courtney exudes class with little more than a guitar or a keyboard with songs that already have the feel of classics and a voice that could melt the hardest of hearts.

Tonight, in Belfast’s Black Box, she delivered a master class in how to enthral, beguile, and charm a room full of strangers.

To be able to write songs of the quality of ‘How Quickly Your Heart Mends’ and ‘Table For One’, is one thing. To soar and caress the songs in the manner in which she does is something else. At 28 she already has a repertoire of songs that many established artists can only look to with envy. Her last two albums have featured in numerous award short lists.

I have seen Courtney perform on two previous occasions, both times she was accompanied by a red hot band and I have been singing her praises to anyone who would listen since. Tonight, solo and playing guitar and keyboard, she is a revelation. Stripped down to their essence, the songs become poems; each word is crystal clear and carries heft.

You are carried along by each character in these tales of the down beat and downtrodden, but never defeated individuals. You are carried on a tide of emotion, where you are routing for ‘Irene’ to follow her heart, and let it love who it wants to love. You do not pity the poor immigrant, in ‘Border’, rather you want to see him overcome the trials he faces, as he strives to find a better life, in a country racked by hate.

When she sings “and if your money runs out, and your good looks fade, may your kindness remain”, you wonder why would anyone want to be mean. At least for the duration of the song!

There is an endearing quality about Courtney Marie Andrews as a performer. She is self-confident in her innate abilities, but downplays them. She apologises for having a cold, but it does not affect her vocal delivery a jot.  Two new songs showcased tonight, ‘Ships In The Night’ and ‘Must Be Someone Else’s Fault’ blend seamlessly into the set, and bode well for the next album.

Already listing the likes of Elton John, Ryan Adams, and Jason Isbell as fans, tonight she garnered quite a few more. There is a real healing balm to her music. The Black Box proved the perfect space for such an intimate show. Enjoy these shows while you can, because Courtney’s star is in the ascendancy, and she is destined for bigger venues.

Gig of the year? By a “country” mile.