Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ron Sexsmith

"High Quality....Ron Sexmith's a real talent, a rare talent, and his album is a little treasure..."

In the mid-'90s, a fragile, understated, Canadian singer-songwriter who drew inspiration from Tim Hardin and Harry Nilsson was as out of place as an upturned toilet seat in a convent.

Such circumstances make it doubly impressive that Ron Sexsmith's debut album had such an impact (Elvis Costello himself touted it highly). It's not that Sexsmith particularly felt the world was ready for a return to the art-pop melodicism of Brian Wilson and the quietly adventurous folk-rock of the aforementioned Hardin (to whom Sexsmith bears a strong vocal resemblance). It's merely that this album was inside him, and had to come out.

Mitchell Froom's decidedly '90s production keeps things from sounding too retro, underpinning Sexsmith's tender reveries with drum loops and a conspicuous absence of reverb. 

Despite the modern trappings, Sexsmith comes across as a classic old-school tunesmith. Song such as "Wasting Time" and "Secret Heart" are worthy of McCartney at his most engaging, and Sexsmith's waifish charisma carries the record perfectly.

Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith's debut album arrived with a bang in 1995, trumpeted by the likes of Elvis Costello, and boasting a modern-day equivalent to the work of '60s pop visionaries like Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson.

Sexsmith's fragile voice and complex melodies flew in the face of lowest-common-denominator top 40, but he was immediately embraced as an important and gifted artist.

Commercially he hasn't fared as well, shifting from label to label, but his creative fire remains undiminished.

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