Ron Sexsmith certainly has staying power. For the Canadian artist to have released eleven albums is impressive, especially considering that his huge industry acclaim has hardly led to the shifting of zillions of units. While the likes of Springsteen, McCartney, and Chris Martin have championed him, the record-buying public remain largely in the dark about his talents. So it is perhaps with one eye on finally achieving some level of commercial success that Sexsmith, in Long Player Late Bloomer, has crafted his most poppy album to date.
Produced by Bob Rock, who has worked with everyone from Mötley Crüe to Michael Buble, the long-player offers fairly straightforward and intelligent adult pop-rock. Across the 13 tracks, Sexsmith’s fine wordplay is accompanied by piano, slide-guitar, harmonica and accordion with rather lovely results. Okay, so it clearly owes a large debt to the sound of early Elvis Costello and to traditional rock radio, but it also sits quite nicely alongside it.
While the polished nature of the production ensures that the songs are easily accessible, occasionally it doesn’t quite sit right with the emotional turbulence and sorrowful subject-matter of which Sexsmith often sings. Sure, the album is nicely balanced, it’s just that a few rough edges amongst the sheen would have made it that little bit more interesting and dynamic. But maybe Sexsmith feels that he has been there and done that, and if the fact that Long Player Late Bloomer could comfortably soundtrack 45 minutes in your local coffeehouse means that the Canadian’s talents begin to reach a wider audience, then that’s got to be a good thing.
Review by Rob Townsend