Many years on and Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor still function superbly as co-singer-songwriters, the former creating wide-eyed pop, the latter twangy country. And they still approach each record as a chance to stretch. Even longtime fans will find appreciable differences in sound on Palace of Gold
, notably in the abundance of horns. While the group claims to have been gunning for a Stax vibe, several songs--Keelor's languid, trumpet-tweaked "What a Surprise" for instance--are more Herb Alpert than Otis Redding. Cuddy, the more versatile of the two, weighs in on both ends of the musical spectrum. The plaintive ballad "Bulletproof" is pure emotion while "Walk Like You Don't Mind" sounds like a fantastically hip outtake from Grease
. As with past efforts, the tracks tend to be evenly split between the two singers, and each gets terrific support from the band. James Gray's organ on "Glad to Be Alive" adds testimonial fever to an otherwise straight-up country-pop declaration, while ex-Wilco multi-instrumentalist Bob Egan graffitis mandolin and steel guitar across these various tracks. Cuddy's "Love Never Lies"--a knock-kneed acoustic weepy--comes closest to marrying his and Keelor's divergent sensibilities, throwing in a string section for good measure. And people worship the Hip....--Kim Hughes
The Canadian Country-rock Band's Ninth Studio Release. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor Continue their Songwriting Magic. This CD was Recorded Totally Analog with Vintage Gear in an Old Building in Toronto Steel Guitarist Bob Egan (Wilco) Guests.