Wednesday, February 6, 2013
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: RON SEXSMITH - FOREVER ENDEAVOUR
Given those stats, you'd expect almost any artist to continue in the same vein, but Sexsmith follows his muse. He also works an album ahead, usually writing and stockpiling the songs for the next one about the time a new one comes out. In an interview touring the Long Player album, he told me he'd already been working on this one, with his old pal Mitchell Froom, producer of four previous albums, including his first three proper ones. Now Froom's highly regarded, but not for Top 40 hits, more for top quality. And when the reason for the choice was because Froom had been getting into orchestrations of late, and Sexsmith had been writing what he described as his most personal set of songs, well, it's not the kind of choice to make accountants applaud.
Personal and orchestrated don't necessarily mean the songs can't be upbeat, and that's the case over much of this album. There are some of Sexsmith's most fun songs here, even if he might be looking closer at himself. Me, Myself and Wine might be about sitting alone on a late Sunday night, getting quietly blasted because you're alone, but he makes it sound great: "Don't cry for me Argentina/Everything's gonna be fine." Nowhere Is might be about being in a bad place, but it's from the point of view of somebody doing well now, looking back, and has a lively flow. Sneak Out The Back Door talks about being anxious in life, whether overall or at public events, but it's full of great streams of words, and again, an upbeat look to a seemingly sad topic: "Will you give my regards to the people in charge, while I sneak out the back door."
As for the orchestration, again, that's deceptive on paper. Froom also arranged all the songs, with great instincts and care. Me, Myself and Wine is accompanied by Dixieland brass, but never at top volume. Most of the songs feature acoustic and voice up front, and the strings, woodwinds and such are rich but not overbearing or lush. This is subtle and enjoyable, a few players, not orchestra dumped on top. Heck, it's a pop album, and all the usual 70's influences are there for Sexsmith, the radio songs, the singer-songwriter, the beautiful McCartney time of Another Day, shades of Harry Nillson, and songs that are unabashedly tender. It's also one of his very strongest lyrical albums, highlighted by the poignant and wise Life After A Broken Heart, again showing how positive he really is, despite the sad reputation some like to saddle him with. I'm very glad Sexsmith got such a boost last time out, but this is the Sexsmith I like the most, heart-smart.