Long Player Late Bloomer
The term “old soul” gets thrown around pretty loosely, but if there’s one modern songwriter who really fits the bill it’s Ron Sexsmith. As a songwriter, Sexsmith has always had a way with writing about “big” topics—love and heartbreak, doubt and redemption, meaning and the struggle to find it– with a sense of humble simplicity that recalls the authenticity of ‘60s and ‘70s songwriters like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. His latest record Long Player Late Bloomer—which is his twelfth, for those counting—is a timeless study in hopeful melancholy that amounts to his best work yet, and fans of his earlier work know that’s saying something.
The record comes after a two-decade solo career that’s received much critical and artistic acclaim (Sexsmith counts Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello as fans) but little commercial success and, lyrically, sounds as though this disconnect is beginning to really weigh heavy on him. Opening track “Get In Line” begins with the lines “heavy clouds are hanging around/and the sun refuses to shine,” and plays like a casual kiss-off to all the wrongs Sexsmith has endured over the years, both personally and professionally. Tracks like “Heavenly” and “Love Shines,” though, show that Sexsmith’s trademark optimism hasn’t diminished entirely, and likely won’t. Instrumentation on the record is tight, well-produced and walks the fine line between understated and interesting that does so well to complement both Sexsmith’s voice and the stories behind his words. Long Player, Late Bloomer is a record certainly worthy of being played for a long, long time to come.