Freddie Matthews writes from London: 49 year old Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith returns with his 13th album in 22 years of releasing albums. Granted, not all of these are actual new studio recordings but I’m making the point that Sexsmith is no new boy on the music scene.
Sexsmith was just a teenager of 14 when he started his first band. He subsequently released his first set of recording just seven years later after the birth of his first child. Despite the recording Sexsmith continued to hold down a full time job as a courier, which goes to show that regardless of being a recording artist you still need to pay the bills and eat and by now he was also a father of two.
It wasn’t until Ron Sexsmith’s 1995 studio album and the single Speaking With The Angel that he gained musical notoriety outside his native Canada. That attention and unexpected praise came in the form of London’s Elvis Costello, who later asked Sexsmith to support him on tour.
Sexsmith recorded 3 more albums between 1997 and 2001 when in that same year he was invited to play on Later … with Jools Holland, the perfect British showcase and platform for new and unknown musicians on the British music scene. The rest, as they say, is pretty much history … or is there a 12 year gap from then up until now, I hear you ask? Well not quite but Sexsmith has also spent many years recording and writing with other musicians including the likes of Chris Martin of Coldplay, Canadian rapper D-Sisive, with Japanese indie band Shonen Knive and Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun, as well as the legendary Leonard Cohen.
Add to the equation an envious list of Ron Sexsmith’s famous admirers from Chris Martin, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow and the aforementioned Elvis Costello. While many of the above have recorded their own versions of Sexsmith songs, Secret Heart was covered by the likes of Rod Stewart, Nick Lowe and Feist. Michael Bublé even covered Whatever It Takes, which featured on Buble’s 2009 multi-million selling album Crazy Love. The fact that so many of his peers have recorded his songs just goes to show Sexsmith’s supreme writing ability.
The brand new album Forever Endeavour is typical of his style throughout the last couple of decades. It’s very singer songwriter and although there’s mostly a band accompanying him it wouldn’t make that much of a difference if there weren’t. This is sensitive stuff with a hint of comedy every now and again, such as track 10: Me, Myself and Wine. It sounds a little early The Beatles in places and very McCartney. In fact dare I say, it’s even better than McCartney. Track 11, She Does My Heart Good was one of the first songs Sexsmith wrote for the album. It’s the most upbeat in this collection and according to the man himself, “It’s pretty much a straight-up love song about the wonderful affect another person can have on your mental state”. Track 4, Snake Road, was the first UK single from Forever Endeavour: again a quirky song with great arrangement and a catchy uplifting chorus that’ll make you smile. Whenever I hear it I feel as if I already know it from somewhere else.
You have to be in the correct frame of mind to listen to an album like Forever Endeavour. It’s not the most uplifting of albums to be released so far in 2013.
He may not be the most attractive or photogenic man at the party but when it comes to his ability who actually gives a sh1t about looks?
There’s just something ‘more’ special about Ron Sexsmith’s composition than necessarily its recording, if that makes sense? I feel as if I’m invited to a moment in time and listening to musical history in the making, rather than just another studio album.