On the title track of his new solo album SKYSCRAPER SOUL, JIM CUDDY croons about a city that can bring you down but one which he cannot leave because underneath it there’s a heart beating.

The amiable BLUE RODEO frontperson said that the reflective tune is largely an ode to his hometown of Toronto, which he thinks is sometimes misunderstood.

“It sort of came about because…First of all, I think I’ve taken umbrage in the last year (at how) so many people slag Toronto,” the singer/songwriter stated in a recent interview.

“For years and years and years it never bothered me and I never even thought about it. I don’t know why in the last year I’ve gotten kind of prickly about it,” the jean clad country rocker mused while sitting on a couch at BLUE RODEO’S WOODSHED STUDIO, where the group’s many JUNO AWARDS are on display atop an armoire.

“I think that Toronto represents the beauty of many cities around the world — that its beauty isn’t always apparent upon first viewing. You come to Toronto and you may feel like it’s a cold concrete place and after you’re here a while…You realize that there’s an incredible amount of energy in this city and that it’s a very easy place to do creative things because there are so many people to bump into, to bounce ideas off of.”

JIM said the track is also a nod to his early struggles in New York, where he and another BLUE RODEO member GREG KEELOR lived in the early 80s.

The two tried to make it as musicians there, supplementing their paltry income by serving tables, but gave up after three years.

“We realized at the end that it’s a bad place to put together a band,” remarked JIM, noting musicians would suddenly drop out of the group because they were broke and had to move.

“It was just such a difficult place to keep life and limb together. We could never have done Blue Rodeo down there. It was coming back to Toronto, getting a little bit off the incredibly beaten track in New York, that helped us to have the time and the wherewithal to put together a decent band and play a lot.”

The urban nature of JIM’S third solo album, which was released on Tuesday, is also felt in its sound, which has a lot more trumpet than what he normally works with.

“It changed the songs so that they became a little less rural, a little less country.”

He recorded the album in January, May and June with his touring solo outfit THE JIM CUDDY BAND (composed of COLIN CRIPPS, BAZIL DONOVAN, JOEL ANDERSON, STEVE O’CONNOR and ANNE LINDSAY).

“I chose to write from the perspective of being here and looking out, as opposed to many times in my career I’ve chosen to write about being in the mountains or being free of the city.”

BRYDEN BAIRD guests on the trumpet as well as flugelhorn, glockenspiel and vibraphone. Other cameos include vocalist MELISSA McCLELLAND.

JIM embarked on the 14 track project (12 of the tunes are also available on vinyl) after writing the funk infused song WATER’S RUNNING HIGH for his actor wife RENA POLLEY’S short comedy film FOUR SISTERS.

Playing piano on the song is their 24 year old son DEVIN, who studied jazz at YORK UNIVERSITY and noodled a bit on JIM’S last solo CD, 2006’s THE LIGHT THAT GUIDES YOU HOME.

JIM’S family life also comes through on REGULAR DAYS, about a financially strapped pair on a road trip.

The story is reminiscent of the time he and RENA, with whom he also has two other children, drove around Florida early in their relationship.

“We were so exhausted from our lives and she was asleep in the car and it sort of occurred to me then and certainly upon reflection that somehow this was going to be the template of our lives,” said JIM, who has several tour dates lined up for the rest of the year and will embark on a cross Canada tour with his band in the new year.

“That these weren’t just wild days that we were having and then we were going to settle into a normal life. We were always going to have this very left of centre life…and that is certainly the way it’s turned out.”

EVERYONE WATCHED THE WEDDING, about an empty nester who watched the recent royal nuptials to get relief from his life, is the album’s first single.

JIM said he was one of the legions of viewers who got up early in the morning to catch the royal wedding live on TV. But the impetus for the song started much earlier, when he became smitten with the film THE KING’S SPEECH.

“One of the things that I was really struck by was that in order for a king to be a king, he had to be completely removed from the people. He couldn’t be of the people. He couldn’t have normal friends. He couldn’t be seen walking down the street buying groceries.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s a very noble thing to do. It kind of brings tears to your eyes that somebody would sacrifice themselves like that.’ I started to read about William and I thought, ‘In a way, this kid is doing the same thing.”’

SKYSCRAPER SOUL also has a purely instrumental track: CITY BIRDS.

JIM said he wrote the song for the 2010 film GUNLESS, starring PAUL GROSS, which GREG KEELOR scored.

“But it was rejected as being too sentimental,” JIM recalled with a laugh. “Which was great for me because I was very glad to have it back.”

JIM said another song from the album, DON’T KNOW THAT MUCH, was also one that he originally scored for the film.

“That was also offered to Greg and rejected. So his rejections are my benefit.”

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