Ron Sexsmith Retriever

While mainstream radio has traditionally been slow to catch onto the immense talent of Ron Sexsmith, the brilliant singer-songwriter may finally catch those elusive ears with his stunning new album. While his previous efforts have had their fair share of dynamic shifts from song to song, Retriever contains some of Sexsmith’s most interesting instrumentation and up-tempo arrangements to date. A folk-tale such as "Imaginary Friends” captures the spirit of George Harrison with the easy feel of a Pavement jam to boot, while the ballad "Tomorrow In Her Eyes” is among the loveliest Sexsmith has composed. These songs complement such radio-ready tunes (complete with catchy choruses — a new weapon in Sexsmith’s already considerable arsenal) as "Not About to Lose” and the politically-charged rocker "From Now On.” Whether it’s the alternate perspective provided in the heart-wrenching "For the Driver,” the urgent rock of "Wishing Wells,” or the remarkable ’70s soul-pop of the Bill Withers-inspired "Whatever It Takes,” Retriever finds Sexsmith stepping into one of the most complex phases of his career as a songwriter. As it happens, it also finds him creating his most cohesive, charged up, and accessible record to date which, given his back catalogue, is a tremendous feat indeed.

Where’d those catchy choruses come from? I did a lot of touring with Coldplay and I wondered if that rubbed off on me, but I don’t know really. I remember writing "Not About To Lose” on the road with them and Chris [Martin] overhearing it and saying, "Well, that’s a hit there.” I don’t know if it is but it was nice to hear it because one of the things I’ve heard from labels in the past is that there aren’t any singles on my albums.

You’re renowned for having a great live band with players such as Don Kerr. How did it come to pass that Don didn’t participate on Retriever? When I make records I often have to go to where the producer is and I’m not really in a position to be flying my band around the world to do that. Steve Earle (who produced 2001’s Blue Boy) actually requested that Don drum on that record. Don’s a great guy to have around a studio because he sings, plays cello, and he’s a great drummer. We’re actually doing a country record together right now in Toronto where we duet on every song — like the Everly Brothers or something. So, we do work together but it’s really a financial consideration a lot of the time. (Warner)