Ron Sexsmith: Whereabouts

Ron Sexsmith: Whereabouts

The genius of singer, songwriter, critical darling, Toronto resident, and Elvis Costello favorite Ron Sexsmith lies in his rare, well-conceived mixture of the awkward and the opulent. He's not afraid to display vulnerability, lyrically or in terms of vocal range, but the songs on his third album Whereabouts are intricately decked out with classic, elegant, mannered touches from banjos and slide guitar to an assortment of strings and horns. The new record is certainly his most musically accomplished, guest-star-laden, and elaborately arranged, but thanks to the exceptional production work of the ever-reliable Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, the additional accompaniment never intrudes on the intimate proceedings. Instead, it somehow makes the songs seem even more direct, from languid, beautiful ballads ("Seem To Recall," the exceptional "Riverbed") to lighter, more upbeat fare ("Beautiful View," "Every Passing Day," the playfully arranged "The Idiot Boy"). As has been the case in the past, Sexsmith's seriousness pervades Whereabouts, weighing the album down in its least musically resonant spots. But that gets to be less of a problem the longer you listen: The album is a multifaceted gem that gets better as it goes along and reveals more with each well-deserved repeated listen.

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