Sexsmith & Kerr Destination Unknown

Sexsmith & Kerr Destination Unknown
After nearly 20 years as musical partners, Ron Sexsmith and Don Kerr have finally released a proper collaboration with the startlingly fresh Destination Unknown. When Sexsmith completed his last album (Retriever), he ended up with a batch of songs that didn’t fit on the record. More introspective and delicate, the songs seemed better suited on a country record than the pop masterpieces he’s renowned for. Citing both the Louvin and Everly Brothers as inspirations, Sexsmith called upon Kerr, his long-time live drummer/cellist, to add a harmony vocal to a song called "Only Me.” The session sparked a whole new project in Sexsmith & Kerr and an entire record with an inspired take at a nostalgic sound. Lovely two-part harmonies accentuate accomplished Sexsmith compositions such as "One Less Shadow,” "Chasing Forever” and "Raindrops in my Coffee.” Though generally acoustic and low-key, poppier songs like "Lemonade Stand” and "Diana Sweets” feature the sound of a full band and should appeal to fans of Sexsmith’s upbeat work. Kerr does an excellent job producing the whole affair but the real jewel here is the vocals. Songs like "Your Guess is as Good as Mine” make it clear that Sexsmith & Kerr were born to sing with one another, and it’s a real treat to hear such a clear document of their wondrous compatibility.

What drew you to focus on two-part vocal harmonies? Sexsmith: It’s a sound I’ve always loved, from Lennon and McCartney to the Davis Sisters. When I first discovered the Louvin Brothers it was just kind of spine-tingling. On some of my previous albums, Don would sing with me and it would really complement what was going on. It’s a sound I’ve missed in recent years so hopefully we’re not sinking the whole genre.

What really distinguishes this from a Ron solo record? Kerr: I think the main difference, aside from all the harmony singing, is that it’s almost all acoustic and it features only the four members of Ron’s touring band. We play together all year long, so maybe the playing on this album has a more personal, natural feeling.

Will fans be surprised by the sound of this record? Sexsmith: I didn’t really know what kind of expectations people would have but hopefully when they look at it and see that I wrote all of the songs, they’ll know that I’ve put something out that I’m proud of. This isn’t really the follow-up to Retriever; it’s very much a side-project. It’s a really old-fashioned, square record that your grandmother would like. (Warner)