"a tone that feels less like a curse than a kiss"
Despite the weighty matter Ron Sexsmith deals with on his 11th – and arguably his best – album, no one will walk away from it bereft or downhearted.
No other contemporary songwriter uses such persuasive metaphysical techniques to make the best of bad situations – in this case, the ruin of the planet, death and alienation, big questions about the purpose of creation. At its best, Sexsmith's poetry owes a lot to Donne and Marvell.
"Impossible World" dares both God and Death to give him reasons to believe, and "This Is How I Know" declares ever so equivocally, "From an ocean to a single wave/ out of nothing came the miracle/ That loved us into being/ This is how I know it will be."
If you add to these deceptively simple songs London-based producer Martin Terefe's bright, uncluttered veneer and a robust Cuban horn section (courtesy of Amaury Perez and Alexander Abreu, who recorded their soulful contributions in Havana), the effect is surprisingly heady and hopeful, not a downer at all.