Ron Sexsmith

Despite putting out nine albums and having a knack for writing songs that would make Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson wince with envy, Ron Sexsmith has somehow managed to fly below the radar with the music-buying masses. Just exactly why remains an unfathomable mystery. Yet to his credit, this baby-faced Canadian is still timelessly forging ahead, providing both quality and consistency to his fans. Maybe it's no surprise, then, that his new album is titled Time Being and that tracks like "All in Good Time" and "Hands of Time" show up here as well. His material blends optimism and melancholia in equal measures yet puts emphasis on Sexsmith's winsome vocals, acoustic guitar work, and subtle arrangements that catch fire after they're played repeatedly. Sexsmith's affection for McCartney is all too obvious at times, especially on songs such as "Snow Angel" and "Some Dusty Things." Producer Mitchell Froom, who mined similar turf with McCartney and Crowded House, aids in that ambiance, whether adding a poignant back build to "The Grim Trucker" — a supple narrative chronicling a man who drives livestock to the slaughterhouse — or the casual ramble of "Jazz at the Bookstore." Songs like these help give Time Being and Sexsmith an eternal appeal. — Lee Zimmerman