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Ron Sexsmith

COBBLESTONE RUNWAY • (Nettwerk) Ron Sexsmith

Mediocrity's antidote, genius. Lyric for lyric, melody for melody, Sexsmith stands up to anyone, in any time.

Divergent luminaries may produce Ron this way or that, and I usually like them all. The production on this new disc by Martin Terefe is immediately and hugely different than Mitchell Froom or Steve Earle, and it's as colorful as both of those. All his producers let the songs rule, everybody knows. Terefe's touch is more low-fi tech-y than Earle's rootsy read or Froom's more lush pop treatment. The funky opening of "Former Glory," no bass, but drum kit and guiro, tips the Ron fan that this is a new producer, and a fresh look. Terefe treats another ballad with acoustic piano and strings, like both renditions of "Gold In Them Hills."

It's a very quirky voice--I'm nuts about it, personally. There's a strong nasality, sometimes it even borders on sounding a little like Pee Wee Herman...but that very quality serves the songs well. If his voice were more choirboy pure, I think the tunes would sound overly earnest.

Sexsmith deserves to be a huge star, globally. I've said it before, and will continue to so opine. This is album number six (Wow, love this "Dragonfly On Bay Street"--Ron does Curtis Mayfield...) and I still believe that some song or event will push him up into greater aural exposure, so a bigger slice of the world can get their ears around this fantastic music maker.

There are even lesser known great pop acts and writers we will continue to champion, the likes of Swan Dive, Joe Pisapia, Richard Julian, and Jenifer Jackson. Grownups need great pop music, vitamin M keeps you young. Can't spend all your CD dough replenishing or replacing your classic rock collection…

I'm gonna take this record from the top again, it's too good to listen to just once. Be sure to check out this mellifluous wunderkind grown to manhood on the Listen page. We're happy to see that the V2 label picked this disc up in Europe, and kudos to Nettwerk Records (who also did Ron's countrywomen, the Be Good Tanyas, interviewed in this issue) for bringing us Cobblestone Runway. • FG

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