Andrea England Hope & Other Sins
Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Canada’s Andrea England has a unique ability to work successfully in two different music worlds, placing her pop co-writes such as “Casualty” on Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger’s solo debut album, Killer Love, and recording and performing as a solo artist herself in a folk/roots/country vein. Her sophomore album, Hope & Other Sins, is the long-awaited follow-up to 2005’s Lemonade, the debut that enabled her to work behind the scenes as a professional songwriter.
“The fact I wrote on a song as pop as pop can be boggles the mind of people in the folk genre,” Andrea laughs.
Her new album, Hope & Other Sins — produced in Nashville by Colin Linden (Bruce Cockburn, Colin James, Stephen Fearing), and featuring such special guest musicians as Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Liz Rodrigues, Gordie Sampson and Damhnait Doyle — is about resilience, much like Lemonade was, how life can knock you down, but nothing good can come from staying down for the count. “A lot of the songs on this album have, at the seed, some kind of conflict or struggle, but in the end they are hopeful.” And that’s just who Andrea is — a glass half-full kind of person.
Born in Halifax, NS, she made her singing debut at age 3 with “You Are My Sunshine.” As a kid, she performed at the local church and community centre and in concert settings until her teens, singing and playing piano. She grew up on old-school country, such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, but when Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill came out in 1995, it impacted her an a musician while living in Ottawa for university. “I’d always been a writer, a poet, and I did a literature degree, but I never combined words and music,” Andrea says. “When I heard Jagged Little Pill, Lemonade received three Nova Scotia Music Award nominations and won the Pop Rock Award at the Toronto Independent Music Awards. It also earned a place on the first ballot for the 2006 Grammy Awards in seven categories, including song, album, record and best new artist. As a songwriter, Andrea was also recognized with prizes in such songwriting competitions as John Lennon International, USA International, CFF and NSAI Songwriting Competitions.I felt like I had permission to write about stuff that was in my head. I thought, ‘I can be brutally honest, confessional even.’”
Andrea quickly infiltrated the songwriting community, which led to more and more opportunities to co-write with people who have placed songs with U2, Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, Eminem, Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber and more. “I became a top-liner too,” Andrea says, referring a songwriter term that means the top line of a song (lyrics and melody).
In 2007, Andrea met Colin Linden at Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble. Colin was playing with Richard Bell, who played on Lemonade and she, Colin, Levon and PR legend Richard Flohil hung out that night around Levon’s kitchen table. Andrea and Colin discussed the idea of one day working together. Two years ago, when she had the demos for this album done, she sent them to him and he was eager to produce.
“I knew that he would understand the aesthetic, the sound that I wanted,” says Andrea. “What I wanted to do was have a band play very organically in the style that I was first exposed to, which was old-school country music, and I knew he would do that. The authenticity and the musicianship, I knew he could bring to the music.”
Recorded mostly in Nashville, Colin played guitars, mandolin, Dobro and harmonies on Hope & Other Sins and assembled a stellar backing band for Andrea: Gary Craig (drums, percussion), John Dymond (bass) and John Whynot (piano, organ). She also wanted more Canadians on the record, so invited her friends Damhnait, Carolyn, and Liz Rodrigues to sing harmonies and fellow Nova Scotian Gordie to play on it.
There are many writing collaborators on the album – contributions from everyone from Hill Kourkoutis to Luke McMaster, but she remains sole writer or co-writer in all the songs. These are her stories of hope and other sins.