A few years ago, Jill Andrews went back home to sing at the memorial service of a childhood friend. In mourning, surrounded by relics of her past, the things and people she used to know, she was struck by how much life had changed.
Perfectly preserved brick homes, sidewalks on both sides of the street, untouched jungle gyms and corner stores had her calling out for childhood, an age she realised had passed by. Fridays were a trip to Blockbuster and a couple of Fruit Roll Ups. Freedom was a bicycle and daylight. Andrews reminisces, “I had so much independence….and played so much kick the can with my friends.”
Her forthcoming album, Modern Age reflects on all this, looking back and realising how far we’ve all come and wondering if we’ve gone to far in the wrong direction. It’s an ode to simpler times remembering an era where the rhythm of life played slower, when we rewound cassette tapes with our fingertips, and talked on the phone for hours.
‘Better Life’ is the latest taste of the album, and the song that inspired the record, as Andrews grieves the loss of a “golden-haired beauty queen” to addiction, wishing there had been another path for them.
"I traveled back to my hometown in East Tennessee after hearing the news of a childhood friend who had passed away after a long battle with addiction,” Andrews told us about the inspiration behind the song. “While I was there, I swung by our old neighborhood. I drove by her house and walked to the bus stop where we used to stand on all of those cold, dark mornings together.”
“I had known her since second grade. She was with me at the AMC Theater when I saw Titanic for the first time, crying into the same box of popcorn. She was with me when I smoked my first cigarette (one of her Grandmother’s Benson and Hedges 100’s that she had sneakily lifted from some mystery drawer). She was with me the day that I decided to see if the fire extinguisher worked on the school bus and promptly sprayed white foam all over my friends' and newfound enemies’ heads. It turns out it worked very well.”
“Standing there as an adult, at the bus stop, I was struck by how close we had lived to each other. If I turned left, I could see my house, and if I turned right, I could see hers. It was startling how different our lives were, even back then. And how our paths grew further and further apart as we got older. So far apart that we really didn’t recognise each other anymore."
The song, featuring the wonderful Becca Mancari on vocals, is a delicious slice of soft 70s country pop that brings to mind the sadder moments of Golden Hour or the luscious introspective dream pop of Weyes Blood. You can imagine Andrews driving slowly around her childhood neighbourhood at dusk, along the same tree-lined avenues she used to walk along to school, past ice cream parlours as they close up for the day, singing softly along to a worn-out cassette tape.
‘Better Life’ is premiering exclusively at Holler below.
Produced by Lucas Morton at 4115 Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, Golden Age features 10 tracks that range from anthemic, Kate Bush-esque pop dreams with ethereal synths and lush vocals, to intimate acoustic pop confessionals like ‘Better Life’.
Modern Age is released on August 18th on Vulture Vulture/Tone Tree.
Photography by Fairlight Hubbard