Andy White – How Things Are – album review Mouth Magazine


Hurt and humbled, driftin’, drunk, dangerous, off-the-rails, back on-track,philosophical, focused, flirty and then eventually reconciled to changed circumstance, White’s new album HOW THINGS ARE (out on Monday) concerns the end of his 15-year marriage. It answers the perennial question “… how are things?” with almost every possible permutation of either “pissed off” or “pressing on”.

It’s not always easy to hear (what great break-up album actually is?) but that’s not to say HOW THINGS ARE is ever a difficult listen. Peer- ing in at one of our more open-hearted songwriter’s pains is strangely compelling and, ultimately, an uplifting experience.
White processes his hurt with honesty, until a natural optimism means only an appreciative outlook remains: “Love at first sight? I know how lucky I am that it happened,” he says. “Even just once is amazing”. “Writing these songs was my way of coping, and all of the songs are intense – but it’s not all a sad story”. There is both emotion and for- ward motion on HOW THINGS ARE.

Opener DRIFTIN’ revs up loudly, wheel-spinning mud in the eye as it heads off to who knows where, while JESSICA SAYS is a late night ride – a butterfly; a moth to a light blurring by much too fast. It also contains a top-notch couplet: “Cigarette papers on the parcel shelf, we got our glasses on the National Health”. Elsewhere, YOU GOT ME AT HELLO is similarly giddy, two glasses of wine light on its feet.

A kind of blue smoke spirals, pulled by strings, over the dark end of SEPARATION STREET; Van Morrison’s hands at the wheel, turning in to nostalgia, White captured in the back seat.
CLOSEST THING TO HEAVEN is the moment of finality; no way back from goodbye as it segues into the fare thee well of THANK YOU, an astounding ‘almost instrumental’ which stays up right through the night to see a new dawn. Birdsong shifts the end to a beginning.

Vivid, hurt, hopeful and warm HOW THINGS ARE could be White’s BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, or his RUMOURS. It could be his SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS, his WEE SMALL HOURS.
It could even be his FACE VALUE. You know what I mean?

Steven T. Askew, February 2014