Blue Rodeo Small Miracles

Blue Rodeo It’s very easy to take this Canadian roots rock institution for granted after two-plus decades in the game. The impact and influence they’ve had on the younger generation of artists they’ve gone out of their way to assist should not be underestimated, and they keep regularly delivering quality work. Small Miracles, studio album number 11, is one such worthy addition to the canon. Like your favourite brand of beer, you essentially know what you’re going to get with a new Rodeo record: there are going to be the ballads sung sweetly by Jim Cuddy alongside the more introspective and intense tunes delivered via Greg Keelor’s trademark gruff vocals. This yin and yang of the Lennon and McCartney of Canrock remains the essence of Blue Rodeo, and it’s yet to sound tired. Sure, there’s some lightweight fare here that won’t linger long ("Summer Girls,” for one) but there’s enough of the good stuff to keep their faithful fan base content. The disc starts strong with Keelor in full stride on the moving "So Far Away,” followed by another tuneful Cuddy-sung ballad, "This Town.” The musicianship throughout is predictably top-notch, whether it’s the eloquent piano on the melancholy "Together” or the haunting steel guitar punctuation on musically adventurous highlight "Black Ribbon.” Long may this Rodeo ride. (Warner) Kerry Doole (Warner)