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Andra Suchy

Little Heart – 2012 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Andra Suchy

From the outset, it's evident that Andra Suchy is a special talent, a young artist who manages to capture the essence of a down-home sound with fresh and fervent enthusiasm. Raised deep in the heartland (North Dakota), the daughter of folk-singing parents, she's proved her mettle by singing on stages with Emmylou Harris, Chris Thile and Brad Paisley, recording alongside the Honeydogs, Dave Pirner, Jonny Lang, Peter Ostroushko, and Jeff Healy and by making regular appearances on "A Prairie Home Companion" as well.

Pirner, Ostroushko and the Honeydogs' Noah and Adam Levy all take guest turns on the infectious "Little Heart," Suchy's sophomore effort and her first for a genuine record label (her first album, "Patchwork Story," was released under her own auspices in 2006). It's notable then that the confidence she conveys belies any hint of newcomer status. Written almost entirely on her own - save a haunting version of Neil Young's Helpless and the mournful ballad Georgianna, which was written by her father - "Little Heart" is a gem.

An equal blend of twangy, up-tempo romps and a handful of twilight torch ballads, it spotlights Suchy's searing vocals and her knowing and articulate delivery. Indeed, fiddles, steel guitars and mandolin make songs such as Libertine, 90 MPH and You Can Keep It as exuberant as they are infectious. And yet, when she turns her attention to the more emotive fare like Shimmer and Glow and A Birthday Song, she soars with a passion that naturally suggests a singer of greater age and experience.

Suchy's newcomer status aside, "Little Heart" measures up casts her Americana motif with the effusive gleam that accompanied the first wave of late '60s, early '70s country rock crossover. And given that determination, this "Little Heart" goes a long, long way.