Ron Sexsmith Forever Endeavour

Ron SexsmithForever Endeavour
After threatening to finally cross over into the wider pop world with 2011's Bob Rock-produced Long Player Late Bloomer, it's surprising that on Forever Endeavour, Ron Sexsmith has returned to the relative safety of producer Mitchell Froom and the much more stripped-down sound that established Sexsmith's reputation in the early '90s. However, the revered Toronto, ON singer-songwriter's career has been a study of such contrasts, and long-time fans will no doubt appreciate the conciseness and purity that Sexsmith and Froom present on their first collaboration since 2006's Time Being. Moving at a leisurely pace, Forever Endeavour follows the formula of a classic early '70s Randy Newman or Glen Campbell album: no song over three-and-a-half minutes; a tight, unobtrusive backing band; and subtle deployment of strings and horns, when required. It sets the stage for some of the most, by turns, aching and life-affirming lyrics Sexsmith has ever written, stemming from a health scare in the past year that, thankfully, was a false alarm. "The Morning Light" and "Lost in Thought" offer poignant meditations on existence, but it's the funky, playful "Snake Road" and "Me, Myself and Wine" that provide the album's meat. Meanwhile, "Sneak Out the Back Door," performed solo, may stand as one of Sexsmith's lasting statements, a tribute to the humility that, in spite of everything, hasn't derailed his career. Forever Endeavour is indeed a humble record, but as with its touchstones, the album's power lies in its simplicity. (Warner)