Sunday, April 23, 2017


After years of using big-name producers (Mitchell Froom, Steve Earle, Bob Rock) and their studio crews, for his 14th album, Sexsmith does the most obvious thing, and goes with the familiar. For the first time, he's used his long-serving and loyal road band (the "Eh Team"), and co-produced along side drummer Don Kerr, who has plenty of credits in that field on his own. Works for me; it's saying that there's nothing wrong with what Sexsmith does with his music, no magic formula that needs to be added to break through to more ears. He writes tight, sophisticated pop songs, always with wonderful melodies, with the cleverness of the great '60's and '70's hitmakers. I don't know why there aren't more of us mad fans out there, but c'est la vie. These musicians already know how to make this type of music well, so just let them go ahead and make more.

Sure enough, The Last Rider is full of those delicious moments, Sexsmith never satisfied with an easy melody. Over 15 tracks (and a worthy bonus cut on the double vinyl set), he runs the gamut, from wistful ballads to the surprising energy of first single, "Radio". That one explains so much; "Back when my whole world was the radio." We know where he got his taste for hooks, and the whole band piles them on in more and more inventive ways. Meantime, he continues to give us new ways to look at the normal; "Upward Dog" personifies the yoga position ("Upward dog, always taking the high road"). What's new for this album is a little bit more synthesizer which does tend to sweeten things a bit. I might like a little more guts, as the album is top-heavy with love songs, but I'll trade that for the pop glory he puts in each song.

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