Li'l Andy's new full-length album, While the Engines Burn, pulls off a rare feat by fusing 1930s Ole Opry country with traditional folk and by giving it a contemporary sound and feel in the process. The Village Voice proclaimed that his previous record, All Who Thirst Come to the Waters (2010), was "Roots-based Americana that actually deserves to be made." This time around, the Montreal-based singer (yes, you read that right) may well have revived and reinvented quintessential Canadiana.
This is an introspective, narrative album of lost souls, slow approaching thunder, rumbling train engines, and the rusty hollowed out carcasses of former gas-guzzlers. The title track, "And the Rains Came Down (September 9th, 1917)" and "The Canadian Pacific" showcase the first-rate talent with whom Li'l Andy has collaborated, including producer and Plants and Animals frontman Warren C. Spicer. Here's a record that sounds so good that drummer Ben Cassie, pedal steel ace Joe Grass, upright bassist Hans Bernhard and violinist Joshua Zubot also deserve mention. On the strength of this record, Li'l Andy is certain to find a bigger following. (Independent)