Release Date: Mar 1, 2011
Record label: Thirty Tigers
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Feted by everyone from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to KD Lang, Ron Sexsmith's vast acclaim has never really translated into success. In a sense, he's a man out of time, a songwriter whose perfectly crafted material would have sold better when the likes of Joni Mitchell and his friend Elvis Costello occupied the charts. However, Sexsmith's music just gets better, and his 12th album actually sounds eerily close to a classic Costello: immaculately well-observed songs delivered with sincerity and panache.
Ron Sexsmith has been writing great pop songs for so long it's hard to say why the man hasn't managed to make a great pop album; or, more accurately, one that would communicate his many virtues to listeners outside his cult of (mostly Canadian) admirers. Sexsmith has admirably refused to stay in one place stylistically, but the downside to this is a body of work that's impressive but not consistent enough in its vision to land him on the charts, and it didn't help at all that Sexsmith was clearly growing up in public as a performer on his first few records, which were full of marvelous tunes sung by a man who sounded as if he was afraid of the microphone. On Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith seems to have finally made an album that's consistently strong and thoroughly user friendly; Bob Rock, the producer who helped bring Metallica and Motley Crue to the masses, wouldn't seem like a good choice to work with the guy who wrote "Strawberry Blonde," but Rock and Sexsmith prove to be an inspired pairing.
The singer-songwriter’s sonorous voice can make even the darkest emotions sound bearable. On his 11th album, Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith tunnels out from melancholy, lifted by his pliant croon and effortless melodies. Metallica producer Bob Rock keeps everything neat and amiable: This is immaculate pop appointed with sighing pedal steel, slide guitars, and saloon piano — but in need of a few more scuff marks to underline its turbulent lyrics.
The conceit of Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith’s latest record, his 12th in 20 years, is that he’s a late bloomer with a long life ahead of him. That may be. His career recently took a commercial spike thanks to a duet with crooner Michael Bublé. Emmylou Harris’ forthcoming release will take its title from one of his songs that she covers on the disc.
Ron Sexsmith’s industry cred has always outstripped his commercial presence, with a long list of artists like Paul McCartney, Lucinda Williams, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin having championed his distinctive pop compositions. But on his 11th album, Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith sounds more polished and commercially viable than he ever has. Collaborating with producer Bob Rock, best known for his work with the likes of Metallica and Mötley Crüe, Sexsmith has made a record of winning adult pop that capitalizes on his effortless, pure melodies and smoky tenor.
RON SEXSMITH hits Lee's Palace April 21. See listing. Rating: NNN Ron Sexsmith has never really broken through on a mainstream level despite critical acclaim, praise from superstars like Elton John and Paul McCartney and consistently strong records. He's hoping to change that pattern with Long Player Late Bloomer by bringing in heavyweight producer Bob Rock to sprinkle some radio-friendly pixie dust on the recording.
The term “old soul” gets thrown around pretty loosely, but if there’s one modern songwriter who really fits the bill it’s Ron Sexsmith. As a songwriter, Sexsmith has always had a way with writing about “big” topics—love and heartbreak, doubt and redemption, meaning and the struggle to find it– with a sense of humble simplicity that recalls the authenticity of ‘60s and ‘70s songwriters like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. His latest record Long Player Late Bloomer—which is his twelfth, for those counting—is a timeless study in hopeful melancholy that amounts to his best work yet, and fans of his earlier work know that’s saying something.
A cautious release from a songwriter admired by the likes of Elton John. Chris Roberts 2011 Eleven studio albums in, Sexsmith is no longer the "next big thing" in traditional songwriting. The Canadian has settled into a cosy niche as respected craftsman admired by the likes of Elton John and Chris Martin, his songs lending titles to Nick Hornby books, his work covered by Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello and Tom Jones.
Ron Sexsmith remains incapable of making a bad album. Unfortunately, he seems equally incapable of achieving a true breakout that will elevate him beyond beloved pop songsmith to wider acclaim. The early millennial tandem of Blue Boy and Cobblestone Runway came close, but the title of the Canadian songwriter's 12th album is aptly chosen, if perhaps somewhat overly aspirational.