I was turned on to the blazing talent of Canadian singer songwriter Ron Sexsmith earlier this week when finally getting round to watching the Love Shines documentary screened on BBC4 a little while ago (there’s a trailer for it on YouTube here).
The central theme of the doc is that Ron is popular music’s chronic underachiever; initially you find yourself wondering just how fair a statement this is of someone who counts Elvis Costello, Steve Earle and King of the Producers Daniel Lanois amongst his fans. But then you start to listen to the music properly and you realise that – as Costello himself puts it – Sexsmith is the most wonderfully tuneful melodist since McCartney. Seriously: this man should have a house built of gold discs. It’s worth watching the documentary simply to see the transition between the hesitant way in which Ron first demos his song ideas to his producer to the masterful finished product.
Having raised your expectations I’ll leave you to discover this six string poet yourself, as I’m only just beginning to do. This is a beautiful live performance of Late Bloomer from his most recent album Long Player Late Bloomer. My other early favourite is from his very first LP, a track called Lebanon, Tennessee – a classic example of a song that evokes longing for a simpler place, simpler pleasures (there’s a decent live version here, albeit with the very start cut off).