Canadian born singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith is something of a music business enigma. Since the release of his first album in 1991, he has been critically lauded by the music press and feted by some of the most celebrated names in rock and pop. A host of admirers including Chris Martin, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Steve Earle and Sheryl Crow have all proclaimed his greatness in the past, with many of them covering his songs in their live repertoire. And yet, a major commercial breakthrough has eluded him, something that is obviously a source of immense frustration based on comments he has made in interviews over the last few years.
On recent albums, he has flirted with a more pop oriented sound but Forever Endeavor marks a return to a back to basics approach, and sees him reunite with legendary producer Mitchell Froom, who produced Sexsmith's first three albums. The result is an album of acoustic based, melodic folk- pop streaked with his trademark melancholy, performed in his unassuming, laidback style. It is unlikely to add to his list of admirers, but dedicated fans of Sexsmith will find plenty here that has a ring of familiarity about it - Sexsmith has always been a consummate song-writer and his belief in the power of the song shines through on every one of these tracks. He has doggedly adhered to the belief that if a song is good enough, nothing else matters, and so this is an album out of time, out of step with current trends and fashions in the fickle world of pop.
‘Nowhere to Go' opens the album with a plucked acoustic guitar melody and a flourish of French horn before settling into comfortable Ron Sexsmith territory - all the same lyrical themes are present and correct; an air of regret and nostalgia for the past hangs heavy over all these songs, areas that Sexsmith has mined extensively on previous albums. The string laden ‘Blind Eye' is probably the marquee track on here with its soul influenced chorus melody and ‘Deepens with Time' is a loving and sentimental reverie for family and the things we hold dear from our past.
Forever Endeavor is another decent Ron Sexsmith album - no more, no less. In working out the puzzle as to how major success has eluded him all this time, there are clues to be found on this record. It moves a little too comfortably through familiar Ron Sexsmith terrain; no gear changes, no surprises and no real spark of magic to take the listener somewhere else.
Review by Paul Page