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Cuff the Duke

Way Down Here – 2010 (Ernest Jenning)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Cuff the Duke

Having toured with Blue Rodeo among other Canadian alt.-country acts, Toronto-based band Cuff The Duke make a dent Stateside with their latest. And if you're into warm harmonies and generally a solid off-the-floor feel, this should be sought after. Led by singer/guitarist Wayne Petti, the band opens with a gorgeous folksy number You Were Right showcasing the sweet harmonies and rather laidback, Americana feel. Meanwhile Follow Me is a slightly more up-tempo, pedal steel-accented track that would probably sound perfect on Wilco's earlier world-weary efforts. Produced by Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor, the album shows different facets of Cuff The Duke, whether it's the rowdier, rocky, retro-flavored It's All A Blur or the equally adventurous Byrds-meets-Crazy Horse Promises. Petti however seems to hit a bit of a wall with the sparser The Words You Ignore that has a dreamy quality to it, but doesn't result in a stellar payoff. Fortunately, the joyful jangle returns with the surefire Listen To Your Heart. The second half of the album is highlighted by two five-minute gems, the first being Old Photograph which easily grows on the listener as it ambles along while the barroom piano leading Need You. Overall, Cuff The Duke makes a strong impression with this fine piece of Americana.