Scott Merritt The Detour Home

It may not be fair to call Merritt reclusive, since in the past few years he has produced his fair share of great records for Fred Eaglesmith and Stephen Fearing, among others. But with The Detour Home being the first album under his name since 1990, the Guelph-based singer/songwriter has finally chosen to reassert himself as one of Canada's most original voices. On his album in the '80s for Duke Street, Merritt explored then cutting edge recording techniques learned through experiments at Daniel Lanois' Grant Ave. Studio, which subsequently influenced artists like Jane Siberry and the Rheostatics. On The Detour Home, Merritt remains a master of audio texture, but the emphasis is firmly on his songwriting, which, not unlike Lanois' solo work, is deeply rooted in folk while retaining strong pop sensibilities. High-powered help includes local luminaries Jeff Bird and Bill Dillon, along with Starling's Ian LeFeuvre and Peter von Althen. An endlessly rewarding listening experience and proof of how far ahead Merritt always was in the development of this whole CanRock thing. (Universal)