The Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow.
It is hard not to feel a little for Ron Sexmith and the fellow travellers on what has been a world tour that has lasted for most of 2004. When he remarks self-depreciatingly “this is a new venue for us, and that always makes me feel like we are making a little progress,” it only highlights the painfully slow speed at which Sexsmith’s talents have edged towards the mainstream.
He has been making albums since 1991, recently releasing his sixth, ‘Retriever’ to usual chorus of press and peer approval and moderate sales. For many years, his visits to Scotland have comprised a sold out show at King Tut’s, an exercise in preaching to the converted.
Though the venue is smarter and politely in keeping with the music, it is also a slightly sterile, if comfortable environment for a Sexsmith show. There is little to watch but much to admire in the shape of an ever-expanding songbook of near classic compositions.
The twenty-five songs represent a fair cross-section of his work, and the execution is perfect. Only on ‘From Now On,’ which closes the set, is there any sense of the musicians indulging themselves.
It is hard to apply a genre label to his work. ‘Hard Bargain’ has a gentle country flavour, ‘Whatever It Takes’ is a soft-rock combination of The Beatles and Burt Bacharach and on ‘In A Flash’ drummer, Don Kerr beautifully accompanies him on cello.
Many of the others fit comfortably in a pop writing tradition that spans Elvis Costello to Alex Chilton, via Aimee Mann. In essence, these are restrained and pretty songs, expertly performed, and ‘Galbraith Street’ and ‘Former Glory’ he has at least two that surpass any of his peers.