Album Review by Eric Sandberg
Under normal circumstances, I would have made a beeline to Rhino Records in Claremont, CA on my lunch break Friday to snag a copy of Canadian treasure Ron Sexsmith's new album. Knowing this was not going to be an option, I pre-ordered a copy on Amazon, who understandably weren't able to get it to me on time.
But, as I set out to walk my dog Freddie Mercury this morning, I realized I could sneak in a first listen on Spotify. I turned my phone all the way up and slipped it into my pants pocket. The first thing I noticed was that Sexsmith's velvety, butterscotch pudding voice loses none of its warmth and charm as it shimmers out of the tiny speaker in my pocket. I've been struggling with my blood pressure the last couple of weeks but I don't think the extra medication my doctor prescribed has been as effective at bringing it down as has listening to Ron Sexsmith sing his new batch of songs.
Of course, the release of this album was planned long before current events, which adds extra, unintended, meaning to the album's title. The songs were inspired by Sexsmith and his family's move from the big city to the quiet village of Stratford. I visited Stratford once in my senior year in High School, but saw none of it. We were bussed up there from Pittsburgh overnight so we could sleep through a Shakespeare matinee and bussed back right after — the only positive result being a hook up with my first serious girlfriend.
The album's fourteen songs are all lovely, impeccably arranged and played, and serve as a wonderful oasis from maniacal "press briefings" and death tickers. The lead single "You Don't Want To Hear It" is as prescient as the album's title and is as perfect a slice of flawless pop music as you'll ever hear.
It's hard to imagine how Sexsmith found time to write and record this album as he seems to be constantly providing free entertainment on Twitter — whether its his elaborate, cornball punning, performing acoustic renditions of his favorite songs or being one of the leading (and imaginative) foreign Donald Trump bashers — his Twitter account is a must-follow.
Finding ways to be entertained in these trying times has become a priority of sorts these days and new releases by great and seasoned artists like Ron Sexsmith and Fiona Apple, who seems to be pulling all the media attention with her first album in eight years, are like a jutting branch to grab onto for a moment's respite as we flail down the rapids.
This is great time to pretend Ron Sexsmith's Hermitage is a well-adorned island in Animal Crossing. Go pay him a visit.
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.