A former motorcycle messenger from Toronto, Ron Sexsmith has a talent for writing simple, pretty, tuneful songs that appeal to pop traditionalists everywhere (Elvis Costello is his biggest fan, closely followed by Nick Hornby). His latest album, produced by Steve Earle, showcases a slightly rockier edge than usual with dark vignettes of urban life and lyrics that highlight Sexsmith's gift for doleful understatement. It's an admirable record in many ways but ultimately it suffers from its very lack of pretension - craftsmanship is all very well but there's an air of no-frills straightforwardness about Blue Boy that makes it feel overly smooth and unengaging.