Cris Cuddy Diamond Shine

Country-folk singer/songwriter Cuddy's background includes folk band Jeremy Dormouse and roots-rockers Max Mouse and the Gorillas, and he has been receiving accolades for his solo work. That will continue with this, his third solo album. A gifted songwriter, he has had tunes covered by Prairie Oyster, Mickey Newbury, and Tracy Prescott-Brown, and those talents are on full display here. Such perennial themes as drinking, Cadillacs and freight trains are tackled in a fresh and convincing way. "I'm A Cadillac" has something of a John Hiatt feel, while "Long And Lonesome Old Freight Train" (covered by Prairie Oyster on their One Kiss CD) shines here too. The Oyster's ace guitarist Keith Glass and Murray McLauchlan's bassist Dennis Pendrith are able accompanists, joined by special guests Denis Keldie, Emory Lester and Cam MacInnes. Cuddy's voice is a versatile instrument, neatly matching the variety of his tunes that range from sweet ballads like "Lucky Charm" and "Blue Was The Color" to the rousing "Live For Today." The closing tune, "One For Nick," is a sweet instrumental homage to Nick Drake, not the most obvious influence for a country songsmith. Cuddy uses a few co-writers, including Nashville songwriters Sharon Anderson and Peter Cronin and, on three songs, bluegrass veteran Tom McCreight (Silverbirch). An album worthy of attention. (Vanishing Castle)