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Ron Sexsmith - Forever Endeavour (Cooking Vinyl)
When this little island got its first taste of Ron Sexsmith's brand of melodic, sunnily melancholic music, we couldn't help but point out the obvious - that this guy had the kind of voice you either love or hate. As with any distinctive voice - be it a Richard Thompson, a Bob Dylan, a Billie Holiday or a Ron Sexsmith - there'll always be that clutch of crumpled faces who mistake the unusual for the unpleasant, the incomparable for the intolerable.
Well, a few years have passed and, with them, a long list of long playing records from Canada's Mr Sexsmith, each providing a feast of wonderfully melodic vignettes, ballads and infectious pop songs that sit comfortably with those of Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Ray Davies. His perpetually strong albums hit the same note as those of Harry Nilsson in their keen yet considerate interweaving of happy and sad. And the best songs of the bunch almost always have as much punch as a Wichita Lineman, a Your Song or a Hallelujah in terms of pitch-perfect songwriting. Whether you like the voice or not, you simply can't fault this artist's songwriting prowess.
And that's why it's a delight to report that FOREVER ENDEAVOUR - Ron's thirteenth solo release since 1991 - provides another twelve reasons to be cheerful, and two bonus tracks to boot.
Once again we have a Sexsmith release that ranges from the sweetly devastating (Lost In Thought, Blind Eye, If Only Avenue) to the simply gleeful (She Does My Heart Good, The Morning Light). There's even a few sublime moments on Back Of My Hand when Sexsmith reaches the dizzying heights of the early Beatles (the song could easily have made it onto A HARD DAY'S NIGHT). Indeed, there are traces of early Ron Sexsmith himself on this album, thanks in part to the producer - one Mitchell Froom - who was there right back at the beginning.
At a time when most musicians are madly battling to define the future of their art, it is a sincere pleasure to discover another collection of wholly satisfying, radio-friendly songs from a singer songwriter who does exactly what it says on his tin, namely writing and singing his songs. FOREVER ENDEAVOUR, you'll be glad to know, is just another great LP to add to a thankfully towering pile.