Do this job for a long enough time and you realize there are two kinds of interview subjects: people who are more or less managing a brand and people who want you to know what they’re about.
L’il Andy — whose Sept. 13 release All the Love Songs Lied to Us announced that Montreal’s favourite country crooner was opting to go in new and interesting directions both thematically and sonically — wants you to know what he’s about.
“This record goes against the approach I had to making records in the past,” he says over lunch at le Jardin du Cari, another enduring Montreal classic.
“There’s two schools about recording, and when I got to Montreal, I was really interested in the way I made my first record. I did it on a four-track, I overdubbed everything. And then I met the guys in the Treatment Room and I realized that you could do that painstaking approach of making a record where you record, you overdub things, you get everything perfect — or you can do it in a way that’s a lot more organic to the way musicians work and listen to each other, and you can have all the musicians in a room and get them to play together and mix themselves as they go.”
Put plainly, the two approaches amount to the difference between capturing a moment and creating a new one.
“One approach is like painting a picture, applying things slowly, and I did a few records like that. And those were all like taking pictures, taking snapshots of performances. But there was something about that approach that was limiting, and with this record I got more into the idea of recording while trying to capture a live feel for the band.”
All the Love Songs Lied to Us is rich in stories and styles, and perhaps best of all, moments where the listener is pulled from one emotional moment to a wildly different one without warning — which is dope as fuck because cohesion doesn’t necessarily need to mean predictability.
One track, “Limestone Song,” sounds like it’s a B-side from Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. It is a tragic and mournful moment in time more than it is a song.
The reference to a musical is purposeful; All the Love Songs Lied to Us plays out like a theatrical performance, something cinematic or otherwise something that requires you to sit down and consider, and experience.
Like, that song shouldn’t exist on a record that has the jaunty “The Lives of Others” on it. It shouldn’t even exist near it — but it does.
So what inspired this change in approach? A baby being born? A near-death experience? A bee sting of a headache of a fever dream of a place and time far, far away?
LOL no. It was a talk with Warren Spicer.
“Warren and I had this conversation where we talked about our favourite records,” he says. “He would talk about, like, Ziggy Stardust, and I would talk about Neil Young’s Harvest. I’d say Harvest has this feel of the autumn, and the fall, and also this summertime driving feel, and then we talked about the songs that were on it, and how there’s nothing in there that makes you think that. That theme isn’t innately in that record.
“And so it’s like, what makes a good record that is cohesive as a unit? Is it something the artist has put in there or does the listener project that onto it? And I think that the listener projects that onto it, and at the end of the conversation the only recipe that Warren and I could come up with for what is a great album is, ‘Well, it has great songs.’” ■
Li’l Andy plays as part of POP Montreal with Gigi French and Rae Spoon at la Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m., $15