Tuesday, April 5
Eleven albums into his career, Ron Sexsmith, one of folk-pop's most enduring talents , ain't changing>"/>
Tuesday, April 5 The Crocodile
Tuesday, April 5
Eleven albums into his career, Ron Sexsmith, one of folk-pop's most enduring talents, ain't changing much. Despite asking Metallica and Motley Crue knob-turner Bob Rock to produce his latest LP, Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith's latest doesn't stray far from his formula: sunny-sounding pop with an undercurrent of melancholy. And the pairing of Rock and Sexsmith is an elegant one, with the two Canadians gelling in the studio, and Rock's lush production polishing Sexsmith's songs to a perfect sheen.
Those who journeyed to the Crocodile Tuesday night were treated to an equally polished set of Sexsmith's songs, including many from his latest record. "It's nice what they've done to the place," he said to the half-full room at the start of his set, commenting on the recently renovated venue. And his five-piece band sounded great in the room, with Sexsmith playing acoustic guitar backed by an electric guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer--all of whom could sing. Take that, Metallica.
At 47, Sexsmith is a seasoned live performer. He exudes a quiet confidence on stage, saying thank you after every song and counting the band off before each begins. He talked briefly to the crowd between songs, telling a few anecdotes, but also playing a few requests, some which, he noted, were submitted via his website and some which were shouted out by showgoers. Set highlights included the ballad "There's Gold in Them Hills," "Strawberry Blonde," which he played solo acoustic, and "Brandy Alexander," about his favorite drink, and which may be an even lovelier version than Leslie Feist's, with whom he wrote the song . "I wonder if they know how to make that here," he pondered.
Hit-making producer aside, Sexsmith is a career artist, having made similar-sounding records for 20 years now, never following trends or anything other than his own inspiration, racking up a slew of admirers in the process, from Paul McCartney to Elvis Costello. He's never been as cool as Jeff Tweedy, as dark as Elliott Smith, or as versatile as Steve Earle, but he's just as consistent as all three, if not quite as successful. His easygoing melancholy is easy to appreciate and even harder to step away from in a live setting, where his songs, professionalism, and subtle charms can really shine through.
The scene: 30- and 40-ish KEXP supporters in collared shirts and comfy shoes.
BTW: There's a rock doc about the making of Long Player Late Bloomer called Love Shines that played at SXSW, where it won the audience award.