Andrea England has just released her second album. Seven years after her first and fourteen years following a car accident which almost killed her …
The story is a Hollywood one.
England was delivering her first ep to a record store in Ottawa. The accident brought her career to a full stop and she carried on with a fresh outlook. Andrea determined to turn her lemons into lemonade – and she has … thank you very much.
‘Lemonade’ is the title of her award-winning debut in 2005. Indeed ” it’s all about lemonade …”
The accident and later heart-related illness further cemented England’s resolve to hone her craft. A songwriter with 140 compositions and counting, her collaborations with an international who’s who of songwriting professionals include Dan Hill, Bruce Brody (Rickie Lee Jones, Patty Smith), Bryan Allen (Heart), Jeremy Ruzumna (Macy Gray), Liz Rodrigues (Eminem), and many others.
England has returned to a solo project with Hopes and Other Sins. A project, judging by the first track – ‘The Thought of You’, which should rank very high among the angels which were so close to being Andrea’s roommates over a decade ago.
‘The Thought of You’ reminds a listener immediately of a woman by the name of Sheryl Crow. Or – is it Shania Twain. Bonnie Raitt maybe …?
Therein lies the beauty of the first track. A summation of everything beautiful in music. Ingredients which compliment a voice that sends music gracefully into the airwaves. England is one of few who sing without effort. Singing is her ‘calling’ and with the first song, a feeling is born between the listener and singer. A pact is completed and signed when guitarist Colin Linden’s slide enters the picture. A perfect combination of balladry and an edge to compliment the ‘other sins’. Did I mention John Whynot’s organ playing at the beginning of the song …?
‘Lonely’ starts off with guitars complete with attitude. England jumps into the mix with her best impersonation of a sixteen year old girl sitting on a chain-link fence while the band trades licks and other things on the porch behind. Great music includes country and blues. The forefathers of Madonna’s limousines. Thank the lord, England is deep with her memories and even more profound with her band selection. ‘ Lonely’ is a feel good bottle of beer mixed with ginger ale. A ‘Shanty’ of great taste.
Real blues is meant to be listened on vinyl. Scratched and abused by the million times it has been listened to. ‘Hothouse Flower” is exactly the type of song which can accompany so many moods and feelings. Dumped? Put in on. In love …? Put in on. Cooking breakfast following an evening with your new found love? Put this acoustic / organ foot -tapping number on and enjoy the moment again and again … It’s a delightful way to poke the Devil in the eyes with your white satin fork and innocence of days gone by …
‘Fool’s Gold’ will be the favorite of any fan of Rickie Lee Jones.
If England spent any time with Jones it must have been like long lost twins meeting for the first time in years. ‘Fool’s Gold’ starts off showcasing Bruce Brody’s artful piano playing. A twinge of romance and feelings of a pre sex-ting era. England’s pronunciation of ‘hanging on to nothing’ and the chorus – a reminder of Lee Jones’ classic ‘Last Chance Texaco’. Brody has worked with Rickie Lee Jones. A coincidence that Brody and England are together …?
“When I was a young girl I did not know what Mama meant …”.
Fitting lyrics within a fitting coming of age story in the song ‘Laundry’. A tale of life lessons sung so beautifully by England – every Mother should make their teenage daughters listen carefully. “I took my ring off for a minute and put it on a shelf ..” The best song on the album!
‘Drive’ continues the angelic ways of England’s voice. A continuing saga in life’s tales. A tale of getting in the car and attempting to chase memories of a love affair gone bad. Anyone who thinks clearly while driving for long distances can relate to this tune. Andrea has been places with her soul and as the album progresses, the obvious is never more obvious. Colin Linden accentuates the feeling with divine intervention. A marriage for the ages.
Wistfulness comes to mind describing the album Hope and Other Sins. Wistfulness and melancholia. The world requires England’s messages. The world filled with so many mixed messages, it requires self – effectiveness more than ever.
‘I’m Not Ready Yet’, ‘Picture of You’ and ‘Trying’ are a trilogy of gazing at the moon a la Tom Waits. Minus the gruffness. Seldom do a group of musicians become so entwined on the same song sheet that the song sheet itself – tossed into the wind. The songs follow suite like butterflies engaging on a journey filled with hopes, dreams and reality. Dan Dugmore, who has played with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, becomes the real star on these tunes. His pedal steel guitar playing become the tears of a lost contagion of planet earth denizens looking for answers in an asylum seeking a keeper. Andrea is asking why. A listener can give the answers from within themselves if they try hard enough.
The disc concludes with instructions for the future.
‘Learn to Dance’ a last message from a group of professionals to keep hope and try. Instructions to never give up with a back-beat of positive musical notes. A perfect book end to the disc’s opening track. A second pop – oriented track which includes the profound lyrics – “Life is like a river flowing ..”
Listen to England’s disc. You will buy it.
You will “Learn to Dance’ and be singing choruses all day long …
Visit her site; http://www.andreaengland.com/
Andrea England: Vocals, Harmony Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Colin Linden: Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Dobro, Harmony Vocals
John Whynot: Piano And Organ
Gary Craig: Drums And Percussion
John Dymond: Bass
Bruce Brody: Piano on “Fool’s Gold”
Damhnait Doyle: Harmony Vocals on “The Thought of You”
Liz Rodrigues: Harmony Vocals on “Learn To Dance” and “Lonely”
Carolyn Dawn Johnson: Harmony Vocals on “Trying,” and “Hothouse Flower”
Dan Dugmore: Pedal Steel on “Picture Of You,” “Trying,” and “I’m Not Ready Yet”
Gordie Sampson: Acoustic Guitar on “The Thought Of You,” Lyric Guitar on “Drive,” Mandolin on “Picture Of You”