Ron Sexsmith

Record review

Phases & Stages

Ron Sexsmith

Retriever (Nettwerk)

Seventies AM radio would've gobbled up Toronto's Ron Sexsmith like three scoops of vanilla ice cream lathered in chocolate sauce and nuts. Blue boy's seventh LP, Retriever, which far out-distances his 2002 Nettwerk debut, Cobblestone Runway, and overall is Sexsmith's best bauble since his mid-Nineties Interscope output, would've gone Paul McCartney back in the day, spinning off one high-rotation pop smart after another. Cherubic describes both Sexsmith's baby face and his ripe, plump voice. Paired with his ever-fertile tunesmithery, ether-plucked choruses, and airwave melodies, singer and song beget a pop ball worth fetching again and again on Retriever. Golden. Whether clever "Imaginary Friends" ("all the friends who've been real and true wonder who you're talking to ..."), merry-go-roundabouts like "Not About to Lose," or mellow Bread-winners such as "Whatever It Takes," track upon track bursts with classic AM/FM density. The strings were arranged by a pro (David Davidson), which is to say they go unnoticed until they flare up like Catherine Deneuve's nostrils. Effortless segues like the lovely formality of piano ballad "Tomorrow in Her Eyes" into up-tempo follow-up "From Now On," or the buzzing solitude of "For the Driver" giving way to the splashy "Wishing Wells" are as seamless as they are stimulating. Retriever ends with a whimper rather than a whisper, but at 12 songs in 40 minutes, the pacing is perfect. So too would it be if Ron Sexsmith were sequenced between the blue-eyed soul of Boz Scaggs and blue-collar tales of Harry Chapin on free-form frequencies of yesterday and today. (Ron Sexsmith plays inside at Stubb's, Tuesday, June 8)

***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Raoul Hernandez
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Feb. 26, 2021

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Feb. 5, 2021

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle