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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Whereabouts

Artist: Ron Sexsmith
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: May 1999

Review by LarryG
3½ stars out of 4

With every record, it becomes clearer that Ron Sexsmith is one of the most compelling singers and songwriters of our time. On his 3rd cd, Sexsmith still has a shy and soft spoken Canadian reserve but he seems to have new confidence as a vocalist and musician. His plain spoken vocals are still strikingly unassuming and ungimmicky and the songs are better than ever. His last record, Other Songs, had great songs like Strawberry Blonde and Clown in Broad Daylight but some of the slower songs didn't really get your attention. Whereabouts is varied and consistently interesting. The slow songs especially demand close listening. Sexsmith has openly declared his love for Elvis Costello. The opener Still Time resembles a good Elvis ballad. Like Costello, Sexsmith has a great sense of detail. But instead of Elvis' irony, Sexsmith's writing has an open faced sincerity. On Seem to Recall, he sings longingly of a time before dummed down TV talk shows which offend his very real sense of decency. Sexsmith blends pessimism and hope. One Grey Morning starts with Sexsmith singing "you can count on many things to let you down" but moves on to Sexsmith saying one should look ahead at what can happen instead of back at what hasn't.  On Still Time, he sings, "Seems we're always racing with trouble too close behind...but where there's hope, there's still time. With producer/keyboardist Mitchell Froom, Sexsmith creates great settings for Sexsmith's introspective tales. Idiot Boy and One Grey Morning have circus-like arrangements that contrast with their sad lyrics.  Right About Now has the feel of classic 70's soul with a great slow groove as Sexsmith simply and touchingly sings of needing his lover. Sexsmith comes across as guileless. When he sings of being let down in Must Have Heard it Wrong, his singing is so sincere and the lyrics are so plainly expressed that his pain is undeniably real. Sexsmith repeatedly creates vivid images like in Riverbed, singing of sadly reflecting, lying by the riverside. Feel For You is more upbeat musically as Sexsmith sweetly tries to cheer up a friend. Whereabouts is intelligent and thoughtful. It's elegant, timeless pop.

Here's what others reviewers have to say:

"...Ron writes and sings sweetly droopy songs that melt the heart and assuage the soul. Sexsmith brings an expanded palette to WHEREABOUTS: banjos and clarinets, piccolos and English horns, all enriching his deceptively direct...songs" 3 1/2 out of 5 Rolling Stone 6/10/99, p.122

"...[Sexsmith] tackles...enigmas in guileful songs that [Langston Hughes] might have admired. The singer's well-ordered melodies flesh out phrases that would hit like cliches from a less gifted artist....WHEREABOUTS offers many morsels of epiphany..." 8 out of 10 Spin 8/99, p.158



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