Courtney Marie Andrews, the 26-year-old singer-songwriter known for her rich story telling and Americana chops, has seen her latest album, Honest Life, climb to the top of the UK Americana Album Charts after being released in the UK on Jan. 20.

For those in the U.S., who have had the record since late 2016, this news is no surprise. Andrews' star has quickly been rising thanks to her powerful songwriting, which draws from a time-honored tradition of telling the stories that many others shy away from.

Andrews, who produced Honest Life herself, spoke to me about her inspirations, her travels and how she arrived at her latest LP.

You once spent four days crossing the U.S. on a Greyhound. What can you tell me about that experience? How did it impact and inform your songwriting?

I was 18 years old, and just got off a tour busking with friends on the west coast. I wasn't ready to go home yet, so I bought a cheap last minute Greyhound ticket to New York, from my hometown, Phoenix, Arizona. It was one of many stories that shaped me as an artist. Little did I know, exactly one year later I'd be on a fancy tour bus, touring around the world as a backup singer. The Greyhound bus is my kind of place in the sense that there are so many stories on it. From it breaking down in 100 fahrenheit, with 90% humidity, to having to take care of a stranger's baby, to guarding my guitar with my life, to hanging out with prostitutes who had recently escaped their pimp in the back of the bus, the trip packed a lot of craziness in only four days. It was also my first tour alone. It taught me to be tough, figure my own way out, and observe. Touring alone is great for observing the world around you, which is great for songwriting.

You seemed to be tapped into a deep tradition of storytelling about parts of America usually ignored by music. Who were your major influences in pursuing this tradition?

In my late teens, I started to discover Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Mississippi John Hurt, and those sorts of folks. Their words really resonated with me, because I understood America in a way some of peers hadn't because of how much I travelled around it. The way Townes talked about traveling the states really gets to me. It's something I whole-heartedly understand, because of my experiences.

What can you tell me about the recording process and the rich production on Honest Life?

Honest Life was the easiest record I've ever made, to be honest. I got my friends together in our drummer's basement, and we rehearsed for a few weeks before heading into the studio. We booked five days of recording time, and finished way earlier than expected. The entire rhythm section was recorded live. Then we had some friends come in to do some overdubs. There were no fancy studio gimmicks, and hardly any post production. It was just a group of great musicians in Seattle. Our engineer, Floyd knows how to place a microphone, and knows his gear. It was a very natural process.

You’ve been making records for the better part of a decade. How does it feel to know that Honest Life has found so much acclaim and love from critics and fans alike?

Honest Life was the right record to showcase to the world, in the sense that it truly is my coming of age record. Sometimes I feel like things truly present themselves to you when they're supposed to, and this all just feels like the right time for me. All those years of releasing records, and working as a session musician and bartender, have just prepared me and humbled me. I wouldn't have it any other way, or take back all those years of hard work, discovery, and learning.