Ron Sexsmith -- Time Being (Ironworks)

Having friends in high places is no guarantee of success by association. Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith is a prime example. Sexsmith's gifts for melody and storytelling have been trumpet

 
Ron Sexsmith



Having friends in high places is no guarantee of success by association. Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith is a prime example. Sexsmith's gifts for melody and storytelling have been trumpeted throughout his dozen-year career by a near pantheon of musical contemporaries, including Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bono and Coldplay's Chris Martin. For all their efforts, Sexsmith has remained a critics' darling, a songwriter's songwriter and a relative cult artist in commercial terms.The upside is that, like his peer and admirer John Hiatt, all that cloistered acclaim has made Sexsmith's songs ripe for covering by an impressive roster of fans (Rod Stewart, kd lang, Nick Lowe, Mary Black), allowing Sexsmith the creative freedom to turn his back on the pursuit of commercial success and craft the personally satisfying records that have become his trademark. Time Being, Sexsmith's 10th album overall and debut for Ironworks (the indie label started by Kiefer Sutherland and Jude Cole), is merely the latest gem in a catalog crowded with simple greatness. Sexsmith's knack for incisive lyrical observation on the big topics — life, love, loss, redemption — coupled with evocative musical accompaniment continues unabated on Time Being, from the Folk/Pop surge of "Hands of Time" to the Nilsson-esque lilt of "Snow Angel" to the delicate power of "I Think We're Lost." Some of Time Being's most moving moments come when producer Mitchell Froom strips Sexsmith down to the basic components of guitar, voice and song ("Reason For Our Love," "And Now the Day is Done"), the quietly dazzling core of every Sexsmith composition. Maybe it's a good thing Ron Sexsmith has eluded mainstream success; it might just have ruined a perfectly wonderful career. (Brian Baker) Grade: A-

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