Home Read Classic Album Review: Ron Sexsmith | Retriever

Classic Album Review: Ron Sexsmith | Retriever

The criminally underappreciated troubadour returns with another superlative effort.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Sigh. I have to admit, listening to Ron Sexsmith albums is starting to depress me.

It’s not that he’s depressing. Or that he’s untalented; far from it, this rumpled Toronto troubadour is one of the finest songwriters on the planet — a romantic tunesmith on par with the likes of Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman or Elvis Costello.

But that, sadly, is the trouble: He’s an Elvis Costello in a Britney Spears world. So even though he has spent the last decade creating magnificently crafted, artfully exectuted albums that critics rave about and cognoscenti covet, he sells fewer records than this week’s TV talent-show pan-flash.

I’d love to tell you that Retriever, his seventh studio set, is sure to rectify that deplorable disparity. But frankly, I’d be lying. Or at least wishing out loud. Don’t get me wrong; the gorgeous and nostalgic Retriever is yet another stunning and superlative effort, with a dozen lushly appointed, sonically seductive pop masterpieces soaked in melancholy melody and dripping with poignant longing. And Ron’s boyish, bittersweet, butterscotch pipes have never sounded stronger or more self-assured. But so what; unless he hooks up with The Neptunes or gets Norah Jones to cover one of his cuts, Sexsmith seems doomed to be the best songwriter most people might never hear. Sigh.