Jim Cuddy, The Light that Guides You Home

It's been eight years since Jim Cuddy's infectious debut, All in Time, which surprised many industry types (even Cuddy himself) when it won a Juno for best male vocalist. No one should have been stunned though, as Cuddy has been writing hit songs for Canada's seminal country rock group Blue Rodeo for the past decade.

Naturally, Cuddy's sophomore disc, The Light that Guides You Home, is full of strong, country inspired pop-rock ballads accentuated by personal heart-felt lyrics. Highlights found in the first single "Pull Me Through" is pure Cuddy, fused with a tender muted trumpet, "Married Again" is tongue-in- cheek, honky tonk, and the punch-drunk rocker "Stagger In" ends with an old-time piano melody (courtesy of his brother, Devin).

Lyrically, Cuddy seems content on playing the hopeless romantic, as he poetically sings about love, both lost and found, with some shout outs to cities like Winnipeg and Calgary. But in the middle of the album Cuddy throws in a fantastic anti-Bush song "One Fine Day" with so many stinging lines it's hard to pick one — my personal favourite is at the end: "When your kingdom's gone, And your friends moved on, We're going to watch you fall, We're going to watch you crawl, One fine day."

Overall, fans of Blue Rodeo won't find anything new here, but once again Cuddy has created a solid representation of modern roots-rock played out in his well-known and well-loved poppy formula. (Warner Music Canada)

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