By Christine Leonard
Jim Cuddy – Countrywide Soul
[Warner Music Canada]
Kicking rocks and turning over fertile ground, Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy returned to his family farmstead in Southern Ontario to get in touch with his roots and record his latest album.
The rustic rural setting provided a respite from his hectic touring schedule and the ideal environment for capturing the authentic wire-and-wood sound he sought. Joined in his makeshift studio by members of The Jim Cuddy Band, the multi-talented singer/guitarist/producer began reimaging songs from his back catalogue through a stripped-down, yet modern, country music filter.
Unearthing tracks he felt had been previously underdeveloped, Cuddy and company pour liberal doses of draft beer and wheat dust over Blue Rodeo numbers like “Clearer View” and “Draggin’ On.” Tributes to George Jones and Glen Campbell rip a page from the past and lend a high and lonesome mood with covers of “Almost Persuaded” and the star-spangled “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Pretty western ditties two-step and sway in time as Cuddy patches up his sonic scrapbook with a fresh pair of bootcut tunes, “Glorious Day” and “Back Here Again.”
It’s the perfect parting glance for a nostalgic hayride that sets fire to the barn before riding off into the sunset. “Shane, come back!”