The robust, rocking arrangements heard on Ron Sexsmith’s Polaris-shortlisted 2011 album, Long Player, Late Bloomer, sounded like a revelation, as if the veteran Toronto-based singer-songwriter had struck a new creative vein by boosting the tempo of his carefully crafted ballads and reaching for a higher gear.
But almost as an instinctive response to that album’s bigger, brighter tones, Forever Endeavour finds the man known to some as “Ol’ Sad Eyes” returning to the reflective, melancholy approach we’ve come to expect from him over his long career. To realize that sound, Sexsmith has reunited with longtime producer Mitchell Froom, who arranges stately, subtle string and woodwind instruments around his acoustic-based creations.
The result is a satisfying but far less adventurous batch of Sexsmith’s trademark tunes: he could write these well-worn, McCartney-esque melodies in his sleep. And in a way, that’s the problem—it feels like Sexsmith has walked this sonic terrain before. Like a deer that recoils once you get too close, the intimate, adult-contemporary vibe of Forever Endeavour feels like something of a step backwards.
Playlist picks: “Blind Eye,” “Lost in Thought,” “If Only Avenue”