Summary

Ron Sexsmith was just born too late (1964) to have the kind of commercial success his approach and songwriting truly deserves -- he would have cleaned up as a singer and songwriter in the 1970s, but as popular music headed down a groove-oriented path that put little or no premium on intelligent lyrics or sweeping, aching melodies as time and the pop charts stomped, rocked, and rapped into the 21st century, Sexsmith has to be content with being a critics' darling. He is, after all, a very fine songwriter, with a folky base that gives his best compositions the feel of timelessness, and he is also a very confessional songwriter, not hiding behind emotional tricks or gimmicks. Throw in a very heavy streak of melancholy, and it all adds up to never hearing a Sexsmith song on the radio. This set, with the punning title of Forever Endeavour, finds Sexsmith even more melancholy than usual, thanks to a throat cancer scare in 2011 (the lump doctors found in his throat turned out to be benign), a situation that turned him toward thinking thoughts of mortality. Working again with producer Mitchell Froom, who produced his first three albums, and then another in 2006, Sexsmith delivers a new batch of songs that have no chance whatsoever of making a singles chart. That's the fault of the times, though, and not Sexsmith, who simply does what he's done since his under-the-radar career began in 1985. Froom helps out with unassuming but appropriately muted orchestration, applying brass, woodwinds, and strings on several songs, but the overall tone of the album is autumnal, sparse, and acoustic. Highlights include the folky "Sneak Out the Back Door," the jaunty, joyous-sounding, and lovely "Blind Eye" (which sounds just a little bit like vintage Donovan without the hippy-dippy lyrics), and the oddly hopeful (for Sexsmith, anyway) "Life After a Broken Heart," although the whole album feels like a uniform meditation on aging, mortality, and the affirming wish to go forward in spite of what's been. ~ Steve Leggett