Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ron Sexsmith's Time Being: A First Listen

Boy, they just don't make singer/songwriters like Ron Sexsmith anymore.

There aren't too many artists working today who I love more than this guy, and perhaps none who can match his humility and gentle, restrained eloquence. He's a lyricist of uncommon warmth and romance, and his melodies can hold their own against Elvis Costello or Paul Simon any day. He's an uncannily cheery fellow, with lyrics that come perilously close to sentimentality but somehow transcend schmaltz, ringing with honesty and sincerity.

His last album, Retriever, is a modern-day classic, and last year's side project with Don Kerr, Destination Unknown, is a delight. Last Friday I received a copy of his newest record, Time Being, and it has immediately joined the ranks of my favorite Sexsmith discs. It's warm, understated, and filled with the same humility and sweetness that characterize all of Sexsmith's music. It's a more laid back collection than Retriever-- a bit less pop and a bit more folk-rock-- and it succeeds in capturing many of that album's charms while also branching out into new territory. It's everything a sequel should be.

If you live in Canada or Europe, you can buy the album right now. American listeners, I'm afraid, will have to wait until the fall. But it's well worth it-- nearly every track here is a gem:

"Hands of Time" is a mid-tempo folk-rock number, fusing the pop sensibilities of Retriever with acoustic guitars that harken back to his earlier works, as well as some of the electronic flourishes that characterized Cobblestone Runway. It also introduces the album's central themes-- the passage of time, and the contrast between the temporary and the lasting.

"Snow Angel" is an album highlight, and one of Sexsmith's most beautiful ballads, telling the story of a love that didn't last but nevertheless left a permanent mark on the two lovers.

"All in Good Time" is the record's first single, and as seamless a fusion of Cobblestone Runway and Retriever as one could ask for. Sexsmith's redeems the sadness of the last song with some of his trademark optimism: "All in good time, the bad times will be gone."

"Never Give Up On You" is a calypso number-- seriously-- built around acoustic guitar and gentle percussion. It's also one of Sexsmith's sweetest love songs.

"I Think We're Lost" starts off like a Coldplay single, with its chiming piano and soaring chorus, but quickly establishes it as this album's "Wishing Wells"-- a dark, brooding rocker of uncharacteristic despair. This one's sure to be a concert highlight.

"Reason for Our Love" has one of my favorite lyrics on the whole album, establishing the divine appointment of romantic love. Musically, it's a moody, jazzy tune in the same vein as "Foolproof."

"Cold Hearted Wind" is a lilting, springy little folk number that might remind you of Paul Simon, James Taylor, or Gordon Lightfoot.

"Jazz at the Bookstore," one of the album's boldest experiments, is a surprisingly edgy, bluesy rock number, with lyrics lamenting the commodification of great art.

"Ship of Fools" is another song of protest-- "We're all in the same boat, darling, a ship of fools it seems"-- set to a typically infectious Sexsmith pop/rock tune.

"The Grim Trucker" might be the most bizarre thing Ron Sexsmith has ever done, an oddly progressive number that shifts from breezy folk to Beatlesesque pop to crunching guitar rock.

"Some Dusty Things" is a moody, mid-tempo folk number that sums up some of the album's chief themes-- consider it a sort of sequel to "Hands of Time."

Finally, "And Now the Day is Done" is a gentle lullaby-- a solo acoustic guitar performance-- that serves as a fitting conclusion.

Is it as good as Retriever? No, it lacks that album's punch, its poetry, and it cohesion. But it's a worthy follow-up, and it easily holds its own alongside Blue Boy and Cobblestone Runway. It's sure to be one of the year's finest releases.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Download a youtube video with the music of choice>Convert the file of download to what ever the Mega Man fangame's music you want to replace's file format (.mp3, .ogg, etc)>Rename the file of the song to the exact same as what ever song you want to replace (For example, if you want to replace Leaf Man's in SFR, rename it to Leafman, the names of the songs are in the games bgm, remember where the music of the game is, by the way)>Put the new song in to the game's music folder>Click "Yes I want to replace file with such and such"

Oh and Google/Youtube for their "Description is Invalid" bullshit and all the other atrocities they've committed for years!

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FUCKING spell checker! I meant to say was...

Oh and FUCK Google/Youtube for their "Description is Invalid" bullshit and all the other atrocities they've committed for years!

1:30 PM  

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