Blue Rodeo are an institution in Canada. And they were well on their way to becoming an institution in Canada before I ever cared about alt country, or any form of country music. And I guess that’s why I missed the boat on them. Because they were already in my musical ether before I started listening to this type of music. And so I guess I had some preconceived notions about Blue Rodeo – music for parents, Canadian, whatever – by the time I discovered I liked country music.
Like all music like this – which seeks to capture the sounds of particular times – whether it works or not is highly dependent on the songs. And both Cuddy and Keeler are good songwriters. Because of my strange aversion to this Canadian institution I don’t really know them as songwriters, I just know (assume) they are good. This is a good set, but I have no idea where it would rank in their catalogue. One thing I will say is I like bands with two songwriters with slightly different styles, because it allows them to play off each other and that’s certainly true here, at least to a certain extent.
But the other reason for the success of a band like this is they have to really own the sounds they are capturing. There are so many bands that play roots music. What distinguishes the ones that are any good is songwriting yes, but it’s also musicianship and aesthetic. And certainly Blue Rodeo live up to their name on this album. This is what this music is supposed to sound like.
12 years ago I picked on Diamond Mine for being overproduced. I haven’t listened to it since. But this isn’t overproduced exactly. It’s more rehearsed than I like this genre but I also understand that their status as a Canadian institution might in part rely on their professional sound. The record sounds fine and I shouldn’t let my personal preferences get too much in the way – it’s not like there are a thousand overdubs or an orchestra or something.