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Blue Boy
     

Blue Boy

by Ron Sexsmith
 
He's been called a "songwriter's songwriter" by the London Times, has been compared simultaneously to Jackson Browne and Ray Davies by Rolling Stone, and counts Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney as fans. What's all the fuss about

Overview

He's been called a "songwriter's songwriter" by the London Times, has been compared simultaneously to Jackson Browne and Ray Davies by Rolling Stone, and counts Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney as fans. What's all the fuss about this understated Canadian performer? Well, Ron Sexsmith's songs eschew millennial tension and irony in favor of story-driven tales that go down easy but make a beeline for the heartstrings. Blue Boy, his fourth album, proves to be both consistent with the mindful songwriter's past and the introduction of a new stylistic chapter in his career. After three lovely albums recorded with Mitchell Froom, Sexsmith reconnected with his pal Steve Earle, who produced the musically varied, slightly more rocking Blue Boy (the country-rocker also plays guitar on three cuts). The album has its grittier moments -- including the mellow blues twang of "Not Too Big" and the insistent "Keep It in Mind" -- but it's by no means an amps-to-11 affair. The arrangements vary, from the brass-pumped opener "This Song" to the heartbreaking noir jazz of "Fool Proof" -- "I've been fooled before/Now I'm fool proof," Sexsmith laments over brushed drums, hushed piano, and moaning trumpet -- to the spare, acoustic guitar-laced "Tell Me Again." And throughout, Sexsmith's earthy, soul-affirming voice gives his songs warmth and humanity -- a telltale sign that his singsong melodies and intimate songs will be around for a good long while.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
For his fourth studio album, Ron Sexsmith abandoned the increasingly baroque textures of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake's keyboard-dominated production to work with producer and fellow world-class songwriter Steve Earle (along with Earle's usual studio partner, Ray Kennedy). But if you're expecting the results to be a straightforward singer/songwriter affair, think again -- Blueboy is a stylistically diverse, sonically full-bodied affair, and while it's hardly a full-on rock record, it's certainly Sexsmith's most immediate and forceful set to date. Between the soul horns on "This Song," the reggae accents of "Never Been Done," and the cool jazz arrangement on "Foolproof," Earle's production brings a variety of different flavors to these songs, and while most fall into a smart pop mode not unlike Sexsmith's earlier work, the album's subtle but inventive textures draw the listener's focus into the songs, rather than the arrangements. Earle and Kennedy have also done a fine job capturing the nuances of Sexsmith's vocals, which boast a greater depth than on most of his earlier outings in the studio. But the best reason to listen to a Ron Sexsmith album is always his songs, and Blueboy offers another 14 pieces of evidence that this man ranks among the most gifted singer/songwriters working today. Balancing a youthful charm with a strikingly mature perspective, Sexsmith sings about the stuff of ordinary people -- life, love, and fate -- with a perceptive intelligence, emotional depth, and subtle and compassionate wit that's truly one of a kind. Anyone who has heard his work knows that Ron Sexsmith is a superb songwriter, and Blueboy suggests he's learned how to make records just as strong as his material.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/05/2001
Label:
Cooking Vinyl
UPC:
0711297461428
catalogNumber:
4614
Rank:
142368

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