Greg Keelor Aphrodite Rose

Keelor has used his previous solo records to explore deeply personal issues, not suitable for Blue Rodeo’s group dynamic, but on Aphrodite Rose he finally indulges in all of his long-held psych-country fantasies. The home-recording vibe definitely makes the album sound as close to classic Byrds and Burrito Brothers as Keelor has ever achieved to this point. Yet, overall it’s simply great to hear Keelor unleash some of his wildest ideas, as on "Prisoner,” a nightmarish song sure to baffle most fair-weather Blue Rodeo fans. But when teamed with Sadies Travis Good and Mike Belitsky, as he is on most of the 12 tracks, the paisley touches are completely natural. Keelor indeed sounds energised, even in the quieter moments, such as the Lightfoot-ish "Miss You” featuring Sarah McLachlan, and "Glory Oh,” a rare venture into (more or less) straight country. Although it’s obvious that Keelor wrote these songs while wearing his influences on his sleeve, the end result is the most engaging, and ultimately satisfying work he has produced in some time. It may be wrong to suggest that the next Blue Rodeo album will sound like Aphrodite Rose, but hopefully at least some of its playful sense of adventure will rub off. (Warner)