Ron Sexsmith Exit Strategy of the Soul

As a title, Exit Strategy of the Soul’s new-age self-help book vibe seems odd, but its absurdity belies a raw, adventurous Ron Sexsmith effort. Working again with producer Martin Terefe, Sexsmith loosens up significantly and the sense that he’s trying new things is palpable. Sexsmith tracked the entire record on piano, something he’s been too self-conscious and modest to do previously, even if whole albums were conceived on the instrument. It’s odd because golden pop songs like "This is How I Know” or "Ghost of a Chance” do well led by the keys. Sexsmith reluctantly pursued an idea of Terefe’s — travelling to Havana for part of the sessions and working with a Cuban horn section — which gives "One Last Round” a cool mid-’70s soft rock vibe. A songwriting collaboration (the first ever on his own record) with Feist called "Brandy Alexander” also benefits from stabbing horns and a good groove, even as Sexsmith seems less interested in hooks, writing quite indirect, yet pointed, lyrics. The fact that we’re mostly hearing Sexsmith’s first-take guide vocals gives Exit Strategy a unique immediacy that may surprise fans. (Warner)