Colin Cripps Stormy Northern Days

Colin Cripps Stormy Northern Days
You certainly can't accuse Colin Cripps of rushing into his first solo album. Known primarily as a guitarist, he has played a prominent role in Canadian rock and roots music for 25 years, as a member of '90s faves Crash Vegas and Junkhouse and now as a recent addition to Blue Rodeo. He has also been active as both an accompanist and producer for the likes of Kathleen Edwards (his ex), Jim Cuddy, Ladies Of The Canyon and Paul Reddick.

Cripps is known as a subtle and understated guitarist, so it's no great shock that these qualities apply to his work as a singer and songwriter here. His vocal style does not have a wide dynamic range, but it's a suitable instrument for his quietly reflective songs. The hard-earned respect of his peers is confirmed by an A-list guest list of Canadian roots players that includes Derek Downham (the Beauties), Maia Davies and Anna Ruddick (Ladies of the Canyon), Reddick, Joshua Van Tassel, Chris Stringer, Kate Rogers, Kendel Carson and Rodeo-mate Michael Boguski. Stringer (Timber Timbre) co-produces with Cripps, and the sound is first-rate.

He digs deep lyrically, contemplating past emotional turbulence ("I am just another one who stood too close to your flame"). It takes a few spins for the subtle charms of tunes like "Little Things," "This Old Heart," "Calistoga Sunrise" and "Oh My Western Fire" (a co-write with Colleen Brown) to kick in, but the effort is definitely rewarded.

The overall feel of Stormy Northern Days brings Greg Keelor's solo work to mind, and this will surely go down a treat with Blue Rodeo fans. More, please. (Independent)