Devin Cuddy's live calling card is the delightfully ramshackle charm of his songs, which take on improvised lives of their own.
On Kitchen Knife, however, Cuddy presents 11 tracks in a more linear motion. Rollicking first single Forty Four features a shit-kicking guitar solo that accentuates the country stomp instead of distracting from it. The gang vocals of Town are an endearing touch to its countrified sway. There's a strong Chicago blues influence on Ode To A Gypsy's Daughter, with duelling pianos and guitar solos. On this track and others, Cuddy limits his own contributions, making full use of his talented band. Finally, Catfish Blues showcases his deft, sultry touches on keys.
He still hasn't quite captured the live thrill that electric blues and western swing provide in real life. But relentless touring seems to have honed his songwriting skills, and his follow-up is a marked improvement from his Juno-nominated debut.
Top track: Catfish Blues
The Devin Cuddy Band plays an album release show at the Horseshoe on August 8.