With a voice as distinctive as his name, Ron Sexsmith's 'Exit Strategy of the Soul' marked my road to Damascus conversion to all things Ron.
Mystifyingly still largely ignored, apart from a growing band of converts, Ron Sexsmith has consistently turned out well crafted, intelligent pop music. This, his 9th CD, is his finest.
As usual, with Ron, the opening tracks set the tone. 'Spiritude' is a Brian Wilson type piano and voice instrumental which leads into one of his strongest songs, 'This is How I Know' - evocative and soulful . This song also marks the introduction of the latin type brass section, recorded in Cuba, that come and go throughout the album. In fact, it's these Cuban horns and an emphasis more on Ron's own piano playing that sets `Exit Strategy' apart from his previous work.
Elsewhere, it's business as usual for Ron - a wide range of strong, well written songs in a variety of styles. `Thought and Prayers' and `Ghost of a Chance' are gentle and touching ballads, `One Last Round', `Brandy Alexander', featuring fellow Canadian, Feist, and `Poor Helpless Dreams' more upbeat, `Hard Time' is bleak, worldweary, `Brighter Still' uplifting, heartwarming. McCartney and Beatle influences are never far from the surface and you'll struggle to find a track that dips below the standard set by the opening tracks.
Stuck out on the wing, Ron's slowly getting more attention - Mr Costello, Macca and Neil Finn are apparently counted amongst his fans. For us, lesser mortals, who have also noticed, Ron's actually playing a blinder.