By Jason SchneiderThere must be something about staying busy that keeps people young. At least that seems to be the case with Jim Cuddy. Despite a few flecks of grey in his hair, the Blue Rodeo co-founder seems as though he hasn't aged a day since the band burst onto the Canadian scene in the mid-1980s.
While he will always be known (perhaps inaccurately) as the Paul McCartney to Greg Keelor's John Lennon, Cuddy's enthusiasm to push his work in new directions remains unwavering, as evidenced by his third solo album, Skyscraper Soul, available Tuesday (September 27) through Warner Bros.
Exclaim! recently caught up with Cuddy at Blue Rodeo's studio/offices in Toronto's east end to chat about the album, recorded at the start of 2011 with his usual Jim Cuddy Band players, including guitarist Colin Cripps and fiddler Anne Lindsay.
"For me, it comes down to having the time to range out on my own," Cuddy says. "I help make up [Blue Rodeo]'s schedule, and I knew that we'd have downtime this fall so I'd be able to put out a solo album. I set aside two blocks of time last winter to make it, and for the writing, I'd come in every day at 10 a.m. and just work. I never want to be in a compromising position where I could be holding back a Blue Rodeo song for a solo album."
As in the case of hard-edged blues rocker "Water's Running High," Skyscraper Soul does indeed show off different sides of Cuddy's musical personality, but his well-known skill at composing heart-wrenching ballads is still displayed on tracks like "Everyone Watched the Wedding," released as a single earlier this summer in the aftermath of Will and Kate's nuptials.
"I've never been much of a royalist but something about that wedding was very inspiring to me," he says. "I had come in to the studio to do something completely different and within half an hour I had this song completely sketched out. Usually there's a lot more work involved."
Cuddy also confirmed that Cripps will be taking a spot in Blue Rodeo when the band gets back to playing live, adding some lead guitar as Keelor continues to deal with a hearing problem that in recent months led to his reduced presence on stage.
Cuddy explains, "I heard some people say that they thought Greg was being some kind of prima donna, but the fact is that someone's health has be the top priority. We've all tried to come up with the best solution both for him and for the band, and having Colin there to help out is a natural fit since we've known him and worked with him in other capacities for ages. Greg's been doing a lot better, so I'm excited to see what happens."
In support of , Cuddy has lined up some fall Canadian tour dates, which you can see here.