Blue Rodeo Sharpens Their Knives & Aims for the Heart on Sma
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 11/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With 10 albums (11 if you count their Greatest Hits) to their name, Canada's Blue Rodeo mines mostly familiar territory on "Small Miracles" (TeleSoul Records, total time 57:17) and the result is their most pleasantly cohesive record since 2000's "The Days in Between". Not that "Small Miracles" has the sustained and furious rock intensity of "The Days in Between", but it does capture the essence of the more moody pop tunes that made "The Days in Between" the first alt.county rock masterpiece of the 21st Century. An overstatement? No, not if you consider that "Days" was released the first week of January 2000 and went on to legendary status in Canada and in alt.country circles. Much time has elapsed since then and Blue Rodeo has gone through some interesting personnel changes. Present on the new record is former Freakwater and Wilco pedal steel guitar wizard, Bob Egan, and the jack of all styles keyboardist, Bob Packwood.
Blue Rodeo is a band that is so accomplished and beloved in Canada that they have nothing more to prove...oh, except that after 22 years they are still virtually unknown in the United States! It's America's loss because "Small Miracles" is a refreshingly good and stylistically diverse pop record that you really don't hear too often these days when so many newer bands vie for whatever niche market they feel they have to cater to. That one hears Beatles, Flying Burrito Brothers and Gordon Lightfoot influences on "Small Miracles" is nice, but what adds to the eclectic musical melange are the interesting pop twists like Odessa-era Bee Gees harmonies and melodies ("This Town") and the easy loping tempos of early 70's Canadian popsters Edward Bear ("Mystic River"). Cuddy and Keelor still handle all the vocals, with Cuddy's smooth soulful baritone trading off against Keelor's more rough hewn and introspective delivery. Highlights on "Small Miracles" include the rollicking country rocker, "Blue House", Cuddy's heartbreaking ballad, "3 Hours Away", and the full out rock anthem, "C'mon". These are most readily identifiable as Blue Rodeo songs. Where "Small Miracles" gets really interesting is with the more experimental songs, like Greg Keelor's weird yet fluid samba jazz lounge tune, "Together". "Black Ribbon" is a standout psychedelic country rocker with some Magical Mystery Tour distorted strings and a classic rock chorus thrown in for good measure. "Black Ribbon" is quite easily the best song on "Small Miracles", as Keelor continues a song writing resurgence that was very evident on his 2006 solo album, "Aphrodite Rose". Small Miracles is the sum of its' parts, well crafted pop and rock songs that taken as a whole create a dreamy and romantic mood that will warm you and your sweetie on those `cold December nights'."
One of their best
Stewart Trickett | 12/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own most Blue Rodeo albums, and this is one of their best, second only perhaps to "Five Days in July". The songs are highly diverse - country, rock, jazz, waltz, you name it. I think their greatest strength is in country, and I wish they would dedicate an entire albume to this genre.
Half a dozen of these songs should be hits in both Canada and the U.S., but most won't cause it's Blue Rodeo, one of the most under-appreciated bands anywhere.
Love the album. Highly recommended."