Published Feb 01, 2000Ron Sexsmith says there's at least one major reason he and producer Mitchell Froom fashioned the tracks for his third album, Whereabouts , with a more polished, upbeat and produced tone. All that pop music finery - multi-coloured layers of Acadian organ, strings and gently-tooted horns - was added to help sharpen Sexsmith's rock and roll edge.
"I wanted to leave no doubt that I'm not a roots and tradition artist, which is what I won the award for last year at the Junos," explains the Toronto-based singer/songwriter. "I felt awkward - I don't even own any roots or traditional albums."
Sexsmith's first two albums, his self-titled debut andOther Songs , were simply produced, direct affairs that helped forge his reputation as a songwriter's songwriter, winning rave reviews from the likes of Elvis Costello and pensive music critics the world over.
According to Sexsmith, the 30 songs he brought into the studio for his Whereabouts sessions seemed to call for a brighter, more up-tempo approach. "We try to give each song what we think it needs. When I sent Mitchell the demos, the chord progressions, to him, seemed a little more elegant, a little more involved. It was exciting for me to hear him talk about how we were going to bring in some strings and horns."
New song, "Idiot Boy," seems to be a prime example of Whereabouts' more ambitious studio approach. "[It] was more like a country song when I wrote it," says Sexsmith. "But Mitchell heard this little mid-section that had more of a half-time feel, which gives it almost a McCartney and Wings thing - you know, two songs in one.
"It seemed to be the next step. That's the thing I've always loved about working with him, he's the other ears. He's there to think of things that might not occur to me."