Blue Rodeo Palace Of Gold

Blue Rodeo Palace Of Gold
Much like our Canadian seasons, the arrival of a new Blue Rodeo record brings with it the same expectations, although its effects are another story. Over the course of nine albums in 15 years, the band has ridden the highs and lows of songwriters Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor’s shared inspiration to the point of almost blatant self-plagiarism. This has led them to understand that their formula only now works when it is pushed into uncharted waters, and when this occurs, as on albums like Nowhere To Here, the band lives up to its original intentions. This was not exactly the case with 2000’s The Days In Between, and thankfully that caused some alarms to go off. Instead of remedying the situation, as they have in the past, by getting smaller, the band opted for the opposite direction by enlisting horns and strings. The result on Palace Of Gold is not only a dynamic new sound, but also Keelor and Cuddy’s most consistent collection of material in years. Each seems to have risen to the occasion to write songs that make the most out of the new arrangement possibilities, and the band as a whole plays with a clearly shared purpose. The title track opens the album with a kick reminiscent of how "God And Country” opened Diamond Mine, the album that Palace Of Gold most closely resembles in fact. That both were recorded in live settings in Toronto may be a coincidence, but it’s certainly worth noting. The "Memphis soul” approach is best employed on "Cause For Sympathy” and "Love Never Lies,” one of Cuddy’s better recent ballads. But, overall, Palace Of Gold is a raw and passionate return to form. (Warner)