At the risk of repeating myself, I wrote the following in a blog post in early 2012 about Ron Sexsmith’s Long Player Late Bloomer album (the disc was my favorite album released in 2011)
“I continually ask myself “How does he do it? How does Ron Sexsmith keep coming up with such great melodies album after album?” Who does he think he is — Paul McCartney? Whatever the answer, he’s done it again and released what may be his best album since 2002’s Cobblestone Runway (his self-released debut came out in 1991 and I certainly don’t mean to downplay the bumbercrop of tunes that were included in the albums that came out along the way to the new disc). In a documentary filmed during the making of the new album, Elvis Costello, an early champion of Sexsmith’s work, remarked that Ron was a man out of time. EC believes that Sexsmith is a throwback to the tunesmiths of the late 60’s and early 70s — not because of anything nostalgic or old school about Ron’s work — but because how good those singer-songwriters were (yes, Virginia, back in those days many, many singers wrote their own songs and played their own instruments) and Ron fits into that group.”
Well Ron has done it again. His new album, Forever Endeavour, is again filled with tunes that stick in your head like gum on your shoe (but in a good way). The new album has a softer sound from Long Player Late Bloomer and harks back to the sound of Sexsmith’s first three major-label albums. Like those albums, the new album was produced by Mitch Froom. Froom has also produced, along with other singers and groups, Crowded House and had a tendency to add keyboards to a group’s mix even if none of the band members played keyboards. The best (?) example is “Manic Monday” by The Bangles — the recording is filled with keyboards but not by a single Bangle.
Froom has seemed to move on from that tactic and instead has filled Forever Endeavour with string and horn arrangements. The album opens with “Nowhere To Go,” a typical bad-news-day song from Sexsmith with a strummed guitar and a lonely and lovely French horn. “Blind Eye” has an orchestral arrangement that you could have heard on one of the Frank Sinatra-Nelson Riddle concept albums in the 1950s (it’s that good). “Snake Road” is upbeat and horn-filled. Horns are even a bigger element in “Me Myself and Wine,” giving the song nearly a Preservation Hall Jazz Band feel and making a listener just a little bit woozy. “Lost In Thought” is gorgeous, “Sneak Out The Back Door is a folky, finger-picker, and “Back Of My Hand” is classic Sexsmith with lovely backing vocal harmonies and an arrangement that’s a combination of mid-60s musical touches.
One of my favorite songs on the new disc is “Life After A Broken Heart,” one of the two bonus tracks. The song wasn’t produced by Froom and may very well be a demo recording. But it’s a beautiful, sad song, a gem that finds hope after a breakup.
You can, of course, listen to Forever Endeavour any time you want but it may be best heard and appreciated on a Sunday morning. I often look to certain albums to help the waking-up process on that day. The best example I can give you is Nick Drake whose three English folk albums from the 1970s are guitar-based with arrangements that are original and outside what you might hear on a folk album. Although Ron Sexsmith’s new album isn’t a folk album, it fits very nicely in this tradition — which is probably the highest compliment I can give it.
Henry Lipput is a writer living in the Pittsburgh, PA, area. He has written for a telefundraising company, defense contractors, and engineering companies. He has also written freelance articles on specialty advertising, health care, small businesses, and general interest topics for both national and local publications, including CD reviews for the late, lamented Pittsburgh Boomers..
You can send questions, comments, or complaints to Henry at email@example.com or on Twitter at @HLipput.