Volume 92, Issue 5
Friday, June 12, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
A voice in his own choir
Gazette file photo
WITH HIS SMOOTH COMPLEXION, YOU'D NEVER GUESS THIS GUY USED TO BE IN A RODEO. Jim Cuddy, the baby-faced vocalist of Blue Rodeo, premieres his new solo effort for a London crowd on Saturday, June 13th at the Embassy.
By Clare Elias
"It was a natural part of the evolution," starts singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy, offering an explanation for his journey into a solo album. "Everyone else in Blue Rodeo was writing one, so I figured I might as well."
Cuddy's debut solo record, All in Time, came into being as a natural progression and break from Blue Rodeo. "I needed to release some of the pressure that is put upon us," Cuddy says. "Writing a solo album, there's not that same kind of wall of expectation."
The anxieties of maintaining the "Blue Rodeo status" can be overwhelming. However, Cuddy explains how the band tries to place themselves in isolation, away from the pressures. "We keep ourselves tucked away from people, so we don't have to define what we're doing."
But other tensions will still arise from simply staying in the same atmosphere and company. "Being a part of a band with six people, for twelve years, twenty-four hours a day for six months, it becomes a psych experiment of who's going to crack the first," Cuddy acknowledges. The obvious solution is to expand into different directions in search of interesting and fresh perspectives, which led to different writing outlets. "It broadens our possibilities, for the band and for ourselves."
All in Time gives Cuddy a chance to explore new venues and the opportunity to define his own voice. "I act as a choir in Blue Rodeo and here I can carve out my own personal place." This album allows for the expression of his past and to tell his own stories without the clutter of other voices. "The record is much more distilled and taken from personal history and more true to life."
In his album, he uses his voice to describe the pains of lost loves and returning to find them. Working with fellow artists James Gray (Blue Rodeo), Michelle McAdorey (Crash Vegas) and Sarah Harmer (Weeping Tile) gave Cuddy the stress-free atmosphere he needed to write introspectively. It was the outlet he was searching for, in which he incorporates a rock-country style.
"It's a country-fied, alternative feel. I really got into The Lost Gonzo Band with Jerry Jeff Walker and wanted to explore those sounds," Cuddy says.
While Blue Rodeo songs are similar in sound and contain personalized lyrics, Cuddy explains that when writing a song to be voiced by Greg Keelor, he is conscious it reflects his partner's personality.
"There is a subtle difference between personal life and the narratives we each tell and experience," he explains. "For a Blue Rodeo song, I would be more tempted to put on a socio-political song than on the solo."
While embarking on a new frontier, Jim Cuddy will maintain the Blue Rodeo ideal in his performance. "People should just be happy being there and feeling a connection."
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