After years of sublimating his folk-based instincts in favor of synthesizer sounds, Cockburn returns to his formidable strengths as a guitarist here. He dives into acoustic blues (“Soul of a Man”), neo-rockabilly (“A Dream Like Mine”) and surf-rock (“Actions Speaks Louder”) with verve and bite. His lyrics are even better — from the angry Western balladry of “Kit Carson” to the Springsteen-like political thrust of “Mighty Trucks of Midnight” and the spiritual wonder of “One of the Best Ones,” this is Cockburn at his poetic peak. His explicitly Christian-rooted songs — especially “Great Big Love” and Cry of a Tiny Baby” — use personal imagery to illuminate eternal themes. Producer T-Bone Burnett surrounds Bruce with an exceptional combo, including legendary organist Booker T. Jones. Cockburn has released many fine albums over the decades, but Nothing But a Burning Light deserves special notice for its masterful songwriting and effortlessly fluent musicianship.