16 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

B-sides, alternate takes, previously unreleased tracks, and even a cover of The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” make for a convenient mop-up collection of this critically well-received Canadian singer/songwriter. Ron Sexsmith seems incapable of writing and performing something under par. While his reputation among fellow songwriters (Costello, McCartney, Elton John) reflects his professionalism, it’s his fragile, heart-aching voice that tells you just how much he means it. Never ironic, never sarcastic, bracingly romantic and openhearted (“You Were There”), Sexsmith seems almost a throwback to a simpler, less media-intensive time. These songs feel as if they were written on parchment. Finely polished lines and brilliantly turned wisps of melody show up with such regularity that the cathartic effect is often blunted. How the easy-flowing “On a Whim,” the somber keyboard drip of “Almost Always,” or the sweeping full-band ensemble of “Tears Behind the Shades” could have been relegated to a “Rarities” collection only further displays Sexsmith’s prolific nature.

EDITORS’ NOTES

B-sides, alternate takes, previously unreleased tracks, and even a cover of The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” make for a convenient mop-up collection of this critically well-received Canadian singer/songwriter. Ron Sexsmith seems incapable of writing and performing something under par. While his reputation among fellow songwriters (Costello, McCartney, Elton John) reflects his professionalism, it’s his fragile, heart-aching voice that tells you just how much he means it. Never ironic, never sarcastic, bracingly romantic and openhearted (“You Were There”), Sexsmith seems almost a throwback to a simpler, less media-intensive time. These songs feel as if they were written on parchment. Finely polished lines and brilliantly turned wisps of melody show up with such regularity that the cathartic effect is often blunted. How the easy-flowing “On a Whim,” the somber keyboard drip of “Almost Always,” or the sweeping full-band ensemble of “Tears Behind the Shades” could have been relegated to a “Rarities” collection only further displays Sexsmith’s prolific nature.

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