Street Sounds: On the way to ‘Brill’

Dean Gordon-Smith reviews the latest by Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, Long Player, Late Bloomer.

Ron Sexsmith gets a hand from über producer Bob Rock on his latest album

Ron Sexsmith gets a hand from über producer Bob Rock on his latest album

Now that’s a great album title and one that’s apt for Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith’s 12th album.

For many, Sexsmith is the ultimate misunderstood genius and he has the backing of a rabid fan base gushing hyperbole and many big names (McCartney, Costello, etc.) gunning for him and proclaiming his gifts.

Sexsmith’s ultra-clean and glistening outsider pop is perhaps the ultimate in acquired taste and Long Player, Late Bloomer aims to deal with this situation.

Sexsmith, a critic’s “fave,” is often perceived as too hip for hipsterism and surely too deep for radio. Enter Bob Rock, producer to the hard rock and metal illuminati.

The terminal mopiness that Sexsmith sometimes exudes is edged out of low gear by Rock’s astonishingly light touch.

Defanged? Perhaps, but artist and producer clearly connect here as Sexsmith’s sound is melodic and edging into shining perfection with all his fabled songwriting craft in evidence.

It’s that skill that’s won Sexsmith his reputation and in this respect he’s a modern-day Brill Building phenomenon.

The songs on LP, LB are tasteful snippets of McCartney pop and modern country instrumentally, showing care and sound-scaping skills. But the uplift is really apparent in only a few of the 13 tracks (Believe It When I See It, Michael and His Dad, Middle of Love, Every Time I Follow).

Sexsmith’s music is singular and reaches out, but lacks strength in the grip. On a gut level, it’s not happening.

–– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon musician and the longtime CD reviewer for The Morning Star.