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Blue Rodeo

Tremolo – 1997 (Sire)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by Blue Rodeo

According to Webster's, tremolo is "a tremulous effect produced by rapid reiteration of the same tone." After listening to the new Blue Rodeo release of the same name, you may redefine "Tremolo" as "damn good country music!" The band is one of Canada's best-kept musical secrets, although not by design. These guys have been around for 10 years, released seven albums, winning Canada's version of the Grammy, the Juno Award, two years in a row.

Musically, there's plenty of Gram-era Byrds influence, but they could also be described as a Canadian version of The Jayhawks. Band founders Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy do the bulk of the songwriting and share the singing duties, producing richly elegant harmonies. The songs are just as richly textured instrumentally, all band members being instrumentally multi-talented. A string octet accompanies several tracks.

After listening to 13 gorgeous tracks, more or less acoustically oriented, gently paced numbers, one thinks one has Blue Rodeo pegged. That's when they pull off the biggest surprise, by kicking out the hard-rocking "Graveyard," reminiscent of Uncle Tupelo at their most punk-ish.