Review Summary: Why miss the good ol' days when you can still hear them?May Your Kindness Remain
is an album unconcerned with time. While there’s a noticeable tug of war between the past and present on the listeners’ ears, it seems to be more because of our frantic desire to categorize things that causes this friction than a purposeful decision on Andrews’ part. For much of the runtime, you’d be hard pressed to tell if it came out now or 50 years ago. The only clues come in the occasional genre bending, such as the bridge of “Border,” which sounds like what Pink Floyd would if they ventured into country rock, or a transcendent electric guitar solo on the moody “Took You Up.”
The obvious highlight of the album is Andrews’ majestic voice, as twangy as a steel guitar in true country fashion, channeled into something life-affirming and potent. Despite her unrelentingly country-styled delivery, the instrumentation can be almost progressive at times. It’s surprisingly unreliant on acoustic guitars, depending more on soundscapes of pianos, organs, and reverb, with the aforementioned electric guitar spiking in occasionally for emphasis. These choices don’t necessarily feel groundbreaking or new; rather they feel comfortable, an invitation to try something different if country isn’t your usual choice of diet. The lyrics also eschew the current stereotypes of the genre, focusing on personal hardships and lovelorn feelings, with lines like “Don’t take it to hard / When my mind becomes a question mark” that should be rooted in despair, but in Andrews’ hands, sound unmistakably hopeful.
However, the purity of the experience doesn’t last forever. The time-bending is also where the album’s strengths and weaknesses coalesce. It can come off as frustratingly old fashioned at times, especially in the second half where the otherwise soaring vocal melodies become repetitive and tired. The musicality stops being engaging and enters autopilot, and songs like “Kindness of Strangers” feel weirdly overblown and misguided aside timid and mostly uninteresting tracks like “I’ve Hurt Worse.”
Still, what Andrews has done here should not be discarded as an incomplete attempt to bring classic country to a modern audience; in many way she succeeds. She knows that reminding us of the good old days through music is more interesting than listening to someone whine about missing them. She instead infuses sounds from over several decades of her genre of choice to make her point: That no matter when you are, the music will always be here, and the things that we sing about will never change.