Ron Sexsmith: Long Player Late Bloomer (Warner)
This is Ron Sexsmith’s 11th album and while he is becoming something of a household name in Canada he has yet to earn that over-the-top international hit.
You are probably tired of hearing how much guys like Elvis
Costello and Elton John revere the songs of Sexsmith so I won’t mention it, but this new album intends to change Sexsmith from a singer/songwriter for others to an airwaves staple.
This is a breezy, summery, shiny pop rock album with hooks galore as produced by famed hard rock producer Bob Rock of Metallica, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi fame.
The album title more or less is a four word description of Sexsmith’s career but there is pop radio hit potential all over this gleaming and well crafted album.
There is the giddy love song Middle Of Love spiced up with handclaps as well as a hint of Mersey guitar on the lead off song Get In Line.
I hear a bit of classic Badfinger in Believe It When I See It with some Beatlesque pop in the likeable No Help At All.
There is wonderful backing from some of The Sadies on many tracks while some of these songs are bittersweet with Sexsmith wondering and worrying about the fates (read existential fantods).
This disc has already made its debut at the No. 8 spot domestically which I believe is Ron Sexsmith’s best showing to date.
It will be interesting if this hits the pop radio charts elsewhere.
Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes (Atlantic)
This the second album from Swedish electro indie popster Lykke Li and it promises to establish her as a new star following the international success of her debut Youth Novels of three years ago.
The album was produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn And John who were infamous for their smash hit Young Folks and its loopy whistling.
But there is no whistling on this moody sophomore album fittingly titled Wounded Rhymes.
I still hear a lot of alterna-pop in Li’s music but it is accessible to perhaps make her a fixture on adult pop radio.
Check out the variety, especially with the faux doo wop of Unrequited Love, the sophisticated ’60s girl group grooves of Jerome, and the shiny synths on the carpe diem song Love Out Of Lust.
The lead single and the song that Li has been playing on late night TV talk shows is Get Some and its up-tempo arty dance rock where Li promises some sex role playing with her lover as “I’m your prostitute” backed by a sly Bo Diddley beat.
A winsome album that will surely solidify the career of young Lykke Li.
The Party Ain’t Over (Nonesuch)
Wanda Jackson has been a legendary country star for nearly 60 years since she first started touring and dating as a mid-teen with Elvis Presley in the late ’50s (under the very watchful eye of a very vigilant mother).
She has released many albums as a country and gospel performer but most importantly as a rockabilly singer and it is to these latter roots that Jackson has returned.
This album is getting extra attention because Jack White of The White Stripes acts as producer and he and Jackson have come up with a surprisingly good album with The Party Ain’t Over—jesting at Jacksons’ advanced years and that both she and Elvis had hits with Let’s Have A Party.
I am a big rockabilly fan so maybe I am hearing this album with more rose coloured ears than others but I found Jackson to be a blast on this hot boppin’ slice of wax (to return to the vernacular of its era).
There are too many highlights to mention but my fave three songs include a sultry version of Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good, a hard charging take of Bob Dylan’s homage to rockabilly on Thunder On The Mountain (a song Dylan personally recommended to Jackson) and The Andrew Sisters evergreen Drinkin’ Rum And Coca-Cola.
Cool covers of Jimmie Rodgers’ Blue Yodel #6, Ray Charles’ Busted, Eddie Cochran’s Nervous Breakdown (Jackson was a close pal to Eddie’s songwriting girlfriend Sharon Sheely at the time of his death by car accident at only 21 years) and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates Shakin’ All Over which is a song that you may know from The Guess Who and Jimi Hendrix covers.
In her mid-70s Wanda Jackson still has a weirdly youthful chirpy voice and although North Americans often forget their big stars from the past, Jackson can go to countries like France, England and Germany and pack large ballrooms where they still adore rockabilly.
Jackson, in the glory days of rockabilly from the mid ’50s to the early ’60s, was a major star of the genre and she proves why on The Party Ain’t Over.