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Blue Boy

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Album Review

For his fourth studio album, Ron Sexsmith abandoned the increasingly baroque textures of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake's keyboard-dominated production to work with producer and fellow world-class songwriter Steve Earle (along with Earle's usual studio partner, Ray Kennedy). But if you're expecting the results to be a straightforward singer/songwriter affair, think again — Blueboy is a stylistically diverse, sonically full-bodied affair, and while it's hardly a full-on rock record, it's certainly Sexsmith's most immediate and forceful set to date. Between the soul horns on "This Song," the reggae accents of "Never Been Done," and the cool jazz arrangement on "Foolproof," Earle's production brings a variety of different flavors to these songs, and while most fall into a smart pop mode not unlike Sexsmith's earlier work, the album's subtle but inventive textures draw the listener's focus into the songs, rather than the arrangements. Earle and Kennedy have also done a fine job capturing the nuances of Sexsmith's vocals, which boast a greater depth than on most of his earlier outings in the studio. But the best reason to listen to a Ron Sexsmith album is always his songs, and Blueboy offers another 14 pieces of evidence that this man ranks among the most gifted singer/songwriters working today. Balancing a youthful charm with a strikingly mature perspective, Sexsmith sings about the stuff of ordinary people — life, love, and fate — with a perceptive intelligence, emotional depth, and subtle and compassionate wit that's truly one of a kind. Anyone who has heard his work knows that Ron Sexsmith is a superb songwriter, and Blueboy suggests he's learned how to make records just as strong as his material.

Biography

Born: 08 January 1964 in St. Catharine's, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The earnest work of boyish Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith won acclaim not from only critics but from fellow performers like Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, and John Hiatt -- some of the same artists, ironically enough, who initially inspired Sexsmith himself to become a musician. Born in 1964 and raised in the Niagara Falls area, he started his first band at the age of 14, and within a few years earned his first regular gig at an area club. Influenced by Pete Seeger, he began making the...
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Blue Boy, Ron Sexsmith
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