Unassuming songsmith Ron Sexsmith may be one of the last people in the world you'd expect to work with super-producer Bob Rock, but with Long Player Late Bloomer it all magically comes together. The record is Sexsmith's 12th and "song" is, without question, this Canadian singer's "saviour."
Sexsmith is a traditionalist in every sense of the word. He's been admired by the likes of Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and friend Elvis Costello, but he's always struggled to maintain much by way of chart presence. It really doesn't matter at this point, as Sexsmith's niche is that of integrity over glamour.
Long Player Late Bloomer carries things out in expected fashion. It's an album built on reliable songwriting and sharp observations. Sexsmith comes across like one who listens to the world around him. His modest approach is simultaneously soothing and invigorating.
The Ontario native paired with Rock after hearing what the Metallica producer managed to do with fellow Canuck Michael Bublé. In the case of Sexsmith's record, the wafting of pleasantness blends carefully with the darker edges to create a soundscape that is both tender and off-putting.
Sexsmith's voice has always seemed to waver slightly, reflecting vulnerability and a keen sense of timing. These delicate strands are woven together on Long Player Late Bloomer to create what becomes a tapestry of beautiful noise.
"Get in Line" starts the album with a bouncy melody and touches of country. Sexsmith almost seems to sing behind the pace of the track and it comes off as a little too fast for him, but that's all a part of the rush. "Middle of Love" is another energetic, playful number. It's a guitar-driven rock number that should make a great driving song with its backing vocals and old school feel.
"Late Bloomer" is a charming piece of work. "I'm a long player, my song is my saviour," he sings. "Got to raise it up as far as my spirit can reach."
The pensive ballad is Sexsmith's specialty, however, and there's plenty of that here. "Everytime I Follow" glides with easy guitar and a Roy Orbison vibe, while "No Help At All" offers a touch of flute and a little bit of crooning that the aforementioned Bublé beam. The latter also features one of the best lines on the record when Sexsmith sings of "nursing the exit wound from a near fatal mistake."
Long Player Late Bloomer issues the type of song quality that fans have come to expect from Ron Sexsmith. It's an inoffensive, easygoing treat that may not move units, but it will move spirits.