While the Engines Burn is pure Canadian country, through and through. Stories of turn-of-the-20th-century Canada and the struggles that came along with it are present throughout the album, poignantly on “Gasoline.” Each song is, or seems to be written as if it was, a letter from the past. Li’l Andy puts music to these stories.

The Montreal singer-songwriter doesn’t do anything too special with the instrumentation, but what makes these songs so good are the stories that are told in four- to five-minute segments. Li’l Andy’s voice is so powerful that you can’t help but pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth, no matter if it’s brought forward or hidden in the back. The booming baritone vocals sound more like a crooner’s croon than a country singer’s. That being said, the deep sadness from Andy’s voice is emoted very well when the song requires it.

It seems as if the album was recorded with a “live feel” in mind, but occasionally this is distracting. Li’l Andy’s voice often sounds like it’s coming through a bad stage speaker. It’s a very minor point, but it can be a little jarring if you don’t expect it.

As a whole, While the Engines Burn is a strong collection of Canadiana stories put to music and is well worth the listen if you like the genre.

By Kraig Brachman

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