A Lovely New Set from Mr. Sexsmith
Juan Mobili | Valley Cottage, NY USA | 10/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been enamored with Sexsmith's work ever since the classic "Blue Boy" and bought every one of his albums, over time, from the moment I heard that album.
This is not to say that every one of his recordings has been as packed with exquisite melodies and thoughtful lyrics as the above-mentioned treasure, in Sexsmith's albums there have always been beauties to relish but not quite another album which held my admiration from beginning to end.
That said, this collaboration with Don Kerr -Ron's longtime companion on the road and in studios- may be the one that reaches such heights.
Although the instrumentation here is far more spare than in "Blue Boy," consisting primarily of guitars, an occasional cello and some drums, the quality of the writing is impeccable and the mood the two voices conjure up will remind you of his signature romantic touch.
The songs, by and large, are tunes originally written for "Retriever," this album's predecessor, and the idea of recording them as a duo grew out of playing and harmonizing them while traveling from concert to concert. As far as the general feel given to them, it is mainly the result of Sexsmith's admiration for the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers, which will bring memories from both famous groups without ever making you suspicious of plagiarism. Sexsmith is a remarkable composer and singer in his own right, and Kerr provides the perfect vocal counterpoint.
It is hard to single out songs because the compositions are consistently good and the performance throughout is quite faithful to the influences I alluded to before. Still, "Tree-Lined Street," "Counting On Me," "Only Me," "Raindrops In My Coffee" or "Chasing Forever" are sufficient proof of this album deserving a place in your collection.
So, if you already like Sexsmith and you could use some beautiful music early in the morning, before the world revs up to break-neck speeds, this may be just what you've been waiting for.
Lovely music, where "lovely" means beautiful, tender and unconcerned with what people might think of the plain joy of singing pretty songs."
A beautiful album from one of the world's best songwriters
Gulley Jimson | Bethesda, MD | 08/26/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's incredible how astonishingly consistent and prolific Ron Sexsmith has been over the past decade. I keep worrying that the pace at which he puts out albums is going to dilute their quality, but it certainly hasn't happened yet. Everything he's put out since "Ron Sexsmith" is worth owning, and each contains at least a handful of masterpieces. How an artist this accessible and talented hasn't found more than a cult audience is beyond me. Anyway, Destination Unknown is one of his loveliest albums. Even the songs that don't rank with his best have inched their way into my consciousness, and the great ones -- to my ears, One Less Shadow, Raindrops in My Coffee, Diana Sweets, and Tree-Lined Street -- are genuinely timeless. Maybe a few others could belong in that list, depending on my mood. The few that don't do as much for me are still melodically inventive and worth listening to, but the lyrics tend a little bit towards sentimentality and self-pity; I'm sure, however, that other people feel differently.
I tried to get one of my hipster friends into Sexsmith, but something seemed to put him off. I think he heard the surface prettiness and assumed that Sexsmith was somehow a safe bland coffeehouse kind of talent, who couldn't possibly have anything exciting to offer. But daring goes beyond throwing in distortion and computerized skronks, or spouting lyrics that express shopworn alienation; it also means looking deeply into yourself and caring enough about your craft to keep working until you cast that state of mind into something permanent and honest. A bubbly tune like Diana Sweets, for example, is actually a hard look at the simultaneous pointlessness and irresistibility of nostalgia. It takes a great deal of courage to look inside yourself and pull that out. Perhaps Sexsmith will never have a large audience -- although I certainly hope he does, because he deserves it -- but anyone that really listens to these songs closely will carry them around for a lifetime. Buy it, you lucky few, and enjoy."
Wonderful! Ron Sexsmith fans rejoice!
Tom B | Westport, CT USA | 12/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ron Sexsmith has been a brilliant, stellar exception to the dull and shopworn landscape of popular musical artists for a long time now, and continues his streak of gorgeous, masterful music on this disc. Not only is Ron in his best form, perhaps better than ever before, he also has teamed up with an artist, Don Kerr, who's so compatible they may as well be twins separated at birth.
Ron's heavenly voice is there, as are the soaring, tuneful and memorable melodies, and lush, rich guitar work, all to complement lyrics that are at once sweet, gentle, insightful, and bitterseet. The music flows like a river of diamonds from start to finish. Not one track or moment is less than lovely.
If you have been liking Ron Sexsmith, rush to get this outstanding work of art. If you have never really tried his music, this is a great place to start, with Don Kerr's voice complementing Ron's so beautifully. And if you fall in love with this disc, which you likely will, get the rest of his music. It's all of piece, all beautiful.