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Five Days In July – Blue Rodeo

Toronto-based Blue Rodeo was purveying its own alternately sunny, grizzled mix of country and rock before the alternative country boomlet made it fashionable, achieving stardom north of the border but nary a blink of recognition in the U.S. This self-produced 1993 album, recorded mostly live at the band’s farm and released the following year in the U.S., brought them belated stateside fans partly because of the alternative country trend, partly because the set was more lyrical and explicit in its country accents. As transparent, and unapologetic, Neil Young fans, this was Blue Rodeo’s Harvest, distinguished by the poles of its songwriting and singing team, Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. Cuddy’s clear, soaring tenor provides a romantic foil for Keelor’s smokier, rougher-edged vocals, and together they write brooding rock ballads (“5 Days in May”), ringing, deceptively uptempo loser’s anthems (“Hasn’t Hit Me Yet”), and convincing country ballads (“Bad Timing”), as well as spacier rock dirges (“What Is This Love,” featuring Sarah McLachlan).