May 17th, 2006
|cat57||09:21 am - CD review.|
Ron received great press yesterday in the Montreal Daily newspaper...front page story and large picture in the Arts and Life section! Story is behind the cut. ON a more personal notes I was surprised to read him say ""Robert had a kid the same age as mine,..." I did not know he had a kid?!?!? I knew he lived with a woman but never knew he had a kid.
Sexsmith sings songs of hope
On his new album, the musician tackles time and mortality - two of his close friends recently died - but the album isn't all sad
Font: * * * * BERNARD PERUSSE, The Gazette
Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2006
On his jangly new rocker All In Good Time, Ron Sexsmith sings optimistically about bad times yielding to good ones. Appropriately, the song's electric shimmer evokes the Byrds, who also tackled life's cycles in 1965 with Turn! Turn! Turn! That folk-rock classic also reached back - all the way to the Old Testament's often-pessimistic Book of Ecclesiastes.
Struggling for hope in the face of emotional despair didn't start with Ecclesiastes, nor will it end with Sexsmith's 10th disc, Time Being, out today. In a telephone interview last week, Sexsmith said time and mortality have been on his mind lately, largely because two of his longtime friends, Robert Purdie and Daren Tucker, died during the past couple of years. Time Being is dedicated to their memory.
"These were friends who were like a little posse in high school," the 42-year-old singer said. "Robert had a kid the same age as mine, so that was really hard on everyone involved. It seemed strange to me to be going to funerals for people who are the same age as me."
But it's hard to imagine Sexsmith creating an out-and-out bleak piece of work. As usual, a spiritually based sense of promise peeks in. "I've always tried to hold on to an element of hope - just for myself, even. A lot of my songs are songs to remind myself that all is not lost," he said.
It seems as if some have missed that point. "I've been accused of writing sad songs, but I think I've been a little misunderstood," Sexsmith said. "I think there is a lot of hope in my music. There's humour. As a 42-year-old man, you try to write songs that cover the full range of emotions and reflect all sides of whatever subject you're dealing with."
Still, when Sexsmith noticed the recurring themes on Time Being, he had second thoughts. "When I finished these songs, I was sitting on them for a while. I was actually worried about them, because (the 2004 album) Retriever was mostly upbeat love songs and very poppy - and that was the one I had a (commercial) breakthrough on. I was worried about following that up with a bunch of dark songs about death and things like that," he said, chuckling.
Among those who cheered him on was Elvis Costello, an early supporter whose public enthusiasm had helped launch Sexsmith's career in 1995.
"I was talking to Elvis online about the new songs," Sexsmith said. "I wasn't sure whether I should go back to the drawing board or what, and he said he'd love to hear the songs and give me his two cents. So I made a demo, and he was the first person to hear them. About a week later, I get this long email from him, with production notes on each song."
According to Sexsmith, Costello's suggestions were very minimalistic. "I was very intrigued by all his ideas, but they involved next to no other instruments - guitar and voice, with just a few little things here and there," he said.
While Sexsmith expressed hope that the ever-busy Costello might one day produce him, this project ended up in the hands of Mitchell Froom, who had also sat behind the board for three of his early albums. "Mitchell heard it in a different way. he heard it as a bigger record, with a panoramic thing about it," Sexsmith said.
Sexsmith is hoping Time Being will continue to bring what was once a small, rabid cult into the mainstream. Until recently, Sexsmith shows seemed to draw the same diehards, but now it's not unusual to hear one of his songs chime away in the background at a family restaurant.
Nor does it seem so surprising to hear that the two-time Juno award winner sang Elvis Presley's Don't Be Cruel with superstar crooner Michael Buble at Warner Bros.'s post-Juno party this year. "We got up and kind of rocked that out," Sexsmith said. "He's a great guy with a great sense of humour."
Higher profile notwithstanding, Sexsmith still talks like a fan. During the interview, he seemed as interested in asking about Ray Davies's stop in Montreal as he was in promoting his own album, and sounded amazed at his newfound friendship with Canadian pop icon Andy Kim. The two are working on a new Kim album. "It's just so surreal having him in my life," Sexsmith said.
If his own fans might soon have to face shows that no longer look like fan-club gatherings (Sexsmith recently played Toronto's 2,800-seat Massey Hall), the singer has no regrets. "I was pretty happy before with the way things were going, but I never set out to be a cult artist," he said. "I always tried to reach as many people as possible. A lot of my heroes were very successful commercially, so I was always wondering whether I was born at the wrong time. But maybe my time is coming."
Time Being is in stores today.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2006
No. He was with a woman called Jocylne for many years. I am really glad to see him getting so much coverage. The new CD is wonderful!
|Date:||May 18th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC)|| |
Thanks for the timbit of gossip! I have yet to pick up his CD...will do it this afternoon!