Born in Liverpool and currently partly based in Berlin (though the title track stems from her time in Canada, where she hooked up with Sam Parton from the Be Good Tanyas), produced by Martin Stephenson (whose bucolic North-East air and harmonies permeate several tracks), Andrews’ sophomore release should do much to spread the word.
Ranging from folksy numbers like the cascading, fingerpicked, childhood recalling opener Calling (even if it does namecheck Townes, Nanci, Emmylou, Neil, Johnny and June and heavily recall Cassell Webb’s A Song For Sophie Jane) and the lyrically dark, fiddle-scraping Edges to Gabriel Minnikin’s honky tonk waltzer Please Forget Me (on which he also harmonises) which could have easily come from a Patsy Cline best of.
However, it’s her country affections that are most prevalent as her crystal streams voice navigates songs about family memories (Your Father’s Diary), shiftlessness born of lack of hope (Dead Weight) and the cocktail of despair and passion that anchors the simple circling melody line of the lovely Crimson Tide.
A gifted writer, she also has a good ear for the material of others. Nicky Rushton (who plays piano in the band) contributes two numbers, the poignant, mortality-themed Mother Dear with its image of the mother-child roles reversed by age set to a tune reminiscent of The Water Is Wide, and Ten Thousand More’s fiddle accompanied wistful reflections on a broken relationship. At times evocative of the McGarrigles, she also covers their classic Heart Like A Wheel, boldly departing from a faithful yearning reading to give it a slightly perkier tempo and a totally different phrasing to the chorus, one that prompted a thumbs up note of approval from Anna. Well named, Andrews is a real diamond.
Review by: Mike Davies
Vancouver is Out Now
Gem is on tour in Februrary, details here: www.gemandrews.co.uk/tours