How this guy isn't more famous, I'll never know. This is a near-perfect album of sentimental ballads, beautiful soaring melodies, sumptuous instrumentation & wonderful musicianship and is arguably the Canadian songsmith's finest collection to date. It opens very strongly with the excellent and thoughtful Hands Of Time, is followed by the tender Snow Angel and the gently catchy All In Good Time, giving the album an immediate impact. Never Give Up is a delicate acoustic love song, which is perfectly balanced out by the shimmering, medium tempo I Think We're Lost which boasts music that Paul McCartney himself would have been proud to compose.
Track six, Reason For Our Love, is one of the album's many highlights. A beautiful, stately love song, perfectly accompanied by a sumptuously picked acoustic guitar and a gentle shuffle on the drum kit. Cold Hearted Wind starts like a Nick Drake classic and develops into a soft country-influenced piece which thoroughly delights. The excellent Jazz At The Bookstore introduces itself as a song with an early 90s Elvis Costello influence and, produced by Mitchell Froom, there's perhaps a good reason why.
A jaunty electric piano announces track nine, Ship Of Fools, and it transpires to be a toe-tapping, melodic, good-natured but wry look at life. Next up is The Grim Trucker, a McCartney-esque classic which could have come straight from Ram. The album is completed by the very pleasant Some Dusty Things and the stunning And Now The Day Is Done, a song so touching, it bring tears to my eyes - and may just be the song I`d like played at my funeral. This is a sensational album - mature, dignified, intelligent, human and full of love, loss and humour. Not just simply one of the best albums of the year, but is one of the best ever.
I bought this after seeing a TV profile of Sexsmith. The music is, I think, typical of his style and the topics varied but drawn from everyday life. I loved Jazz at the Coffee shop. I'm not an out and out fan so can't compare with his other material but it seems to align well with what I heard on TV. The recording and engineering quality of the disc are merely adequate.
Ron Sexsmith is no stranger to this game. His tenth, and most accessible album yet, uses all his experience and tricks gleaned over the years to produce a gem.
Teaming up once again with long-time producer Mitchell Froom, Sexsmith opts not to rekindle his youth, but instead to reflect on the passing years. He does so with mellow wisdom, relying on well thought lyrics, natural acoustic sounds and strong melodies.
The album opens with "Hands Of Time", a song about the importance of "this here and now" and feeling "When you move your snow-white hand in mine." Over the next eleven tracks he ponders the well trodden themes of the fleeting nature of life and time, eventual death and the possibilities after that. The beguiling vocals and exquisite harmonies draw you in immediately without the need for repeated listens.
The highlight of the album is "Snow Angel". Using the image of a melting snowman as a metaphor for love, Ron remains upbeat, his delicate vocals creating something beautiful. "Never Give Up", with its whispered, hopeful message stands out along with "Ship of Fools"- a McCartney-esque pop ballad with the best chorus on the record.
Eight months after the worthy detour of "Destination Unknown", Ron Sexmith returns with one of his strongest albums yet. Mid-life crisis has never sounded so good.
A stunning and very unique songwriter. An artist who's songs display an extraordinary sense of warmth and humanity, but remarkably never suffer from triteness or over-sentimentality. Having been a fan for some years, i eagerly anticipated this new offering. I was more than happy with the result. I would say that this is one of Ron's most cohesive and consistent sets. It is crtainly his most accessible. Each album release has seen Mr Sexsmith go from strength to stength as a vocalist and perhaps as a studio performer per se. There is subsequently almost an elder statesmen-like quality to this material, although it is little over ten years since his terrific debut.
I must say, i was a little concerned when i heard Froom would be producing. He resided over Ron's first three albums, though with each progressively sounding more cold and detached. His production work for Elvis Costello on Brutal Youth and then Richard Thompson's You? Me? Us? resulted in two strong sets of songs being completely undermined by their sound. In fairness, the arists involved have been completely aquiescent to Mr Froom's meddling, but never-the-less the albums could have been so much more.
I am very pleased to report that Mr Froom seems to have become a lot more grounded and sympathetic to Ron's material and never once does the production seem to be over-bearing. There are the trademark occasional 60's era psychadelic touches on a few tracks, but they are touches, which gives character, not take it away.
My favourite track here is Jazz At The Bookstore (an idignent, but gentle protest against consumerist apathy and a plea for us to remember the civil rights stuggles through it's musical legacies).
Mr Sexsmith is truly a one off. No matter which songs i prefer, the fact that he wrote the most intelligent and compassionate song on religion i have ever heard (God Loves Everyone - From Cobblestone Runway) alone, means i will always, always be a fan of this great atrist.