Cris Cuddy ‘The Best Kept Secret’ - Self Release

A musician who resides in Toronto who has played in a number of bands through the years before releasing several albums as a solo artist. His latest is a pretty mixed bag in terms of the musical inspiration on offer. Obviously it is all held together by Cuddy’s vocal and his songwriting. While he may not qualify as the best singer you will ever hear he is more than equal to the task of delivering his songs here.  

There are ballads (The Honey Tree) neo-rockabilly outings(The Best Kept Secret) bluegrass inspired songs (The IBMA Blues) hints of jazz (Amy - a tribute to Amy Winehouse), folk (Whiskey Train) blues (The Luck Of The Draw) and country (Got a Brand New Heartache). There’s also a compelling tale of a gunfighter (The Big Chill). Heartache is in full acoustic and vocal mode is especially memorable with fiddle and mandolin taking the lead. There is much to admire on this thirteen track album that also includes the darker Drive-Thru Daiquiri Bar and shows that despite the various influences at work here the end result is still essentially a Cris Cuddy album. 

Long time associate Keith Glass adds guitar and harmony vocals along with a selection of fine players including Jim Hurst and Steve Conn who, with the other musicians, add a range of instruments that includes keyboards, pedal steel, accordion, harmonica, bass, drums and guitars. All in all a solid roots music outing that has enough variety to keep it from ever getting samey or one-dimensional. Something often only a seasoned performer can bring to their work. Cuddy is also the producer here and he gives his players the room to contribute their best efforts but always in the service of the song. Songs that are built around stories of life, love, loss and lost times.

Cris Cuddy can be added to the list of rewarding Canadian roots musicians who make music that seems less controlled by the dictates of any prevailing mainstream industry and more from the heart. There is no doubt that Cuddy's heart was fully in this music. He has been making music long enough not to be a secret and this album should help to spread the word.