I am going to try very hard to avoid the usual lament with which Ron Sexsmith’s fans typically begin any discussion of the man and his work – you know, the lament that uses the word “underappreciated” (often modified by “criminally”). I expect that Sexsmith himself is tired of hearing about how much more attention he deserves than he’s always received. However, I won’t deny that by writing about a couple of his albums, I hope to draw a little more attention to one of pop music’s finest songwriters.
Ron Sexsmith’s albums are like Alice Munro’s short-story collections. They don’t vary wildly one from the other, for one thing; for another, it’s always amazing just how good each one is. Sexsmith’s latest album, Forever Endeavour, continues an unbroken string of fine albums full of fine songs. Sexsmith isn’t a gimmicky songwriter, and he doesn’t follow or ignore trends: his albums are timeless. His arrangements and vocal delivery suit the songs perfectly, and vice versa. It’s no wonder that Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and Paul McCartney – no slouches at throwing together and singing a good song themselves – are admirers of Sexsmith’s work.
The Latest, Still Great
Forever Endeavour’s third song, “If Only Avenue,” and its eighth, “Back of My Hand,” have already found a place among my list of favourite Sexsmith songs, but those are only the best of a very good lot. And the production on the new record is sublime. No wonder: the producer is the marvellous Mitchell Froom, who has worked with Sexsmith before but who also, of course, has produced Crowded House, Sheryl Crowe, The Indigo Girls, Pearl Jam, and, yes, Elvis and Paul themselves.
Talent Will Out
Sesxmith’s last album, Long Player Late Bloomer, was produced by Bob Rock (someone I have tremendous respect for, mostly because of his tenure in two of the finest bands of the eighties, The Payolas and Rock and Hyde). It got mixed reviews, some of which suggested that Sexsmith’s sound and Rock’s production didn’t quite jibe. I disagree. Frankly, it’d take a truly lousy producer to damage or even alter in any significant way the terrific music Sexsmith makes, and Long Player was a really good (and well-produced) album. However, Forever Endeavour does sort of sound like Sexsmith coming home. Check out this lovely album – and, oh yeah, all his others.
Please rate this album and check out Ron Sexsmith’s website: http://www.ronsexsmith.com