Most of us can mark moments or periods of time in our lives by music. A few years back (or a dozen, to be more accurate), I saw a young Americana-ish band, the everybodyfields, fronted by Jill Andrews and Sam Quinn, opening for Tift Merritt at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. Later on, I looked them up online (probably on Myspace), downloaded a few songs, enjoyed them, then the band broke up. Since that fleeting fandom, Andrews has both formed another band, Hush Kids, and pursued a solo career. And, like us listeners, she uses music to mark the passage of time. Her third full-length album, Thirties, chronicles that decade in life when we’re all supposed to feel grown up, but not all of us quite have our act together.
The first two-thirds of the album portray the attempts at maturity of someone trying to leave her twenties behind her. The lead track, “Sorry Now,” has the singer struggling with the dregs of a bad relationship – “Never been sorry/Are you sorry now?” But, in “Sold My Heart,” she also sees her shortcomings – “I think I sold my heart out/And now I feel the fall out/I tell myself the greatest lies.” Stylistically, Thirties is generally in the Americana neighborhood, but “Back Together” wanders toward pop-country, with a bridge full of disses – “You could be the president…could be more relevant/I don’t care.” And “Gimme That Beat Back,” true to its name, is positively (and ironically) dance-y, as Andrews tries to find her mojo – “I ain’t left my house/I ain’t left my head” (introversion is a theme on the album which, in our current state of isolation, may touch a nerve or two).
On the last third of the album, Andrews seems to reach that grown-up point she’s been seeking. “My Own Way” hints at a new independence – “I’m not saying/That I’ll be alone/But I don’t need directions/I’ve got my own.” “River Swimming” has her allowing herself to get pleasantly lost in something again, with a little help – “We’re washing every worry in the water.” “The Kids Are Growing Up” has her facing the fear of every parent – the too-quick passage of time. And the final two songs have her at peace with how she’s gotten to this point and eager to face the next adventure. “Wherever I End Up,” which begins with acoustic guitar and slowly builds as Andrews’ journey expands, has the singer pushing past busted dreams – “Sometimes they lead somewhere/Sometimes they don’t” – and heading toward destinations unknown – “Wherever the wind takes me/Wherever the sky opens up” – with a serene sense of purpose. Finally, “The Way To Go” advocates the tougher path in life – “Isn’t it worth/All the scrapes on our knees.” Amid swirling, multi-tracked vocals, Andrews urges us to keep pushing forward – “Do it over again/Think of life as your friend.” Coming from someone who’s had her share of scrapes, it’s helpful to think that, after this current mess passes, we’ll all get a chance at a do-over.
Thirties was produced by Lucas Morton and Jill Andrews, mixed by Sean Moffitt and mastered by Joe Causey. All songs were written by Andrews, with co-writing credits going to Trent Dabbs, Jeremy Lutito, Peter Groenwald, Luke Dick, Ryan Beavers, Natalie Hemby, Ian Fitchuk and Dustin Christensen. Additional musicians include Morton (keys, electric and acoustic guitar, bass, percussion, piano, synth, background vocals), Todd Lombardo (acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, background vocals), Ian Fitchuk (drums, percussion, keys, acoustic guitar), Daniel Tashian (ukulele, bass, electric, and acoustic guitar, keys, synth, background vocals), Tyler Burkum (electric guitar), Peter Groenwald (background vocals, keys, synth, vibraphone), Jeremy Lister (background vocals), Court Clement (electric and acoustic guitar), and Andy Ellison (pedal steel).
To order Thirties, as well as the companion book, Thirties: The Album in Portrait and Prose, go here: https://www.jillandrews.com/store
Check back here when we’re all ready to go back to shows again: https://www.jillandrews.com/tour