December 2005

Andrea England
December 19, 2005Now LoungeToronto
A New Young Vintage
by Andy Frank
I love red wine, and I know a little about the subtleties that distinguish one bottle from the other. Being surrounded by hundreds of beautiful vintages can be a treat, but it is also a challenge. Which to choose? The ideal choice comes through a process of discovering the perfect balance of quality and accessibility.
As a huge fan of the female folksinger/ songwriter, I often feel the same challenge. Nowadays, one can’t ride the TTC without bumping into a charismatic woman clutching a well-traveled guitar case and a dog-eared notebook filled with delicious emotional outpourings. Who is good, and who is still accessible to the Toronto public at suitable venues? Well, Andrea England is one of those ideal vintages.
On Monday, December 19th at the Now Lounge, Andrea England headlined the regular Groovy Mondays open mike feature, and as per the evening’s format, played only five songs, including “Life” and “Sometimes”, a pair of tunes that are as easy to digest as their titles might indicate. "Sometimes, you gotta think with your heart." However, don’t let the simplicity fool you. Andrea England works songs like a vintner works vines: sowing, pruning, nourishing, sacrificing, refining. “I’m a songwriter first”, she confessed to me after a recent radio interview, and she takes her craft very seriously. Her guitar work and keyboard playing were up to the task, despite the house-keyboard’s mysterious and surprising association with synthesized violins. Andrea just rolled with it like a pro.

As I listened to and watched this delightful artist, I wondered what it was that enabled her to rivet the small audience into behaving like it was at a high-end listening room. Nobody dared to rustle as Andrea’s soft strumming and delicate voice coated our aural palates. Was it her charming Sand Point, Nova Scotia humility and quick humour, or was it the aura that has recently surrounded Ms. England, thanks to her appearance on the official ballot of the 2006 Grammy Awards in six categories? Granted, this is only the first step toward nomination, but as an Indy artist with only one CD to her credit, Grammy anything is an extraordinary endorsement of her songwriting and performing gifts. Hollywood and Nashville have taken notice too, as her music has appeared on a number of TV and DVD soundtracks.

Andrea England now lives in Toronto, and hosts a songwriter’s circle every third Tuesday of the month at C’est What. It’s anyone’s guess whether she will become a household name, or an industry name, or both, but my advice is to approach her like a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau: get some now before it’s gone.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Andy Frank
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