BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Blue Rodeo, Canada’s best kept secret – at least as far as those living in the lower 48 are concerned – is back with another flawless endeavor and a further example of why their brand is so consistent in quality. Comparisons to the Band, the Jayhawks, the Long Ryders and various others who mine a general ‘70s sensibility are inevitable, but in terms of pure song craft and execution, Blue Rodeo occupy a sphere all their own. Indeed, it’s little wonder; with several exceptional talents in their midst (singer/songwriters Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, veteran pedal steel player Bob Egan etc.), theirs is a super group that doesn’t need to be labeled as such to ensure that claim.
Consequently, In Our Nature stays true to its title, another example of what appears to come to this ensemble so naturally. Breezy country rock melodies, supple arrangements and seamless harmonies provide the key components as far as their MO, but what’s all the more impressive is the way they manage to still keep their consistency well over two decades on.
For some, that consistency could be a curse. Having set such a high bar, the challenge to meet or exceed it might prove a bit too formidable in time. Fortunately, Blue Rodeo has never been stifled in that regard. The sweep and sway that propel such songs as “New Morning Sun,” “Over Me” and “Never Too Late” or, conversely, the beautiful balladry shining through “Made Your Mind Up” and “When The Truth Comes” testify to the band’s ability to immediately connect, even on initial encounter. Likewise, the honky tonk twang of “Tell Me Again” and a knowing take on Robbie Robertson’s “Out of the Blue” further bind them to their birthright. Declaring that the acumen is in their nature is one thing. Proving it, as they do so deftly here, is quite another thing entirely.