After having spent the last few years going over old ground on Greatest Hits and the double live Just Like a Vacation, as well as treading water with the less than stellar (but appropriately named) Days in Between, Blue Rodeo found their stride again with Palace of Gold. Having built their own studio, the bandmembers took the time to record in a comfortable, relaxed manner in which they could workshop tunes at their leisure. This newly found freedom allowed them to experiment with the addition of strings and horns on several tracks, a move they had taken tentative stabs at before. On some tunes, the experiment clearly needed some fine-tuning; the moody bossa nova of singer Greg Keelor's "What a Surprise" borders on lounge, and the slight psychedelia of "Comet" seems half-baked. But ballads like Jim Cuddy's soulful "Find a Way to Say Goodbye" and the uptempo "Clearer View" both ring with added depth thanks to the new sonic touches. At their core, the songs on Palace of Gold (at least the best ones) remain close to the group's country-rock core; "Palace of Gold," "Glad to Be Alive," and "Tell Me Baby" all featuring heartfelt singing, jangling guitars, and soaring pedal steel. They could have dropped the gushing "Bulletproof" and still gained some ground. While many longtime fans insist the group reached its high-water mark with the fruitful Five Days in July or Lost Together albums, Blue Rodeo's willingness to move forward while staying true to a good basic sound on Palace of Gold hints that the group's best days may be yet to come.
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AllMusic Review by John Duffy