Once in a while you get one of those Barney Gumble moments, where you listen to a song and exhort: “Where have you been all my life?”. Last night, I’m catching up on all those Later…With Jools “Boogie Fucking Woogie” Holland1 I have recorded. There I am, thinking to myself “Ah, Ron Sexsmith, heard of him, singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, could be worth a try so I won’t fast-forward it”.
A few bars later, I’m thinking “I’m enjoying this”
One verse and chorus later, I’m trapped.
Come the end of the song, I’m rewinding back to the start of the song for another listen. Safe to say that I like it. In fact, I like it a lot. The song, “Get In Line” is one of those mordantly uplifting numbers, a little like John Grant’s “Chicken Bones“, a toe-tapping little number about telling someone to, in the marvellous words of Malcolm Tucker, fuck the fuck off. Though this song does it in a somewhat more delicate and parent-friendly way.
Now, I do have a soft spot the size of Montreal for a singer-songwriter who can do that whole finely crafted, beautifully honed thing. Like, say, Josh Rouse or M Ward or Laura Veirs. The kind of stuff that can happily live on Radio 2 despite being absolutely marvellous. Part of me worries that listening to music like this marks my descent into middle-age (sorry, Ron), or that sharing my tastes with the likes of Elton John or Michael Buble might end with me listening to their back catalogues too. But sod it. With songs as good as this, played as beautifully as this, who cares what company you keep?
Safe to say I’m going to be diving headlong into Ron’s amble back catalogue. I hear that recent album “Long Player Late Bloomer” is not so much touched by the hand of MOR than slapped by it, but frankly that doesn’t bother me too much. And with about 15 previous albums to trawl through, I may be some time. See you on the other side. If you have any recommendations as to where I should go next, feel free to comment!
1 Surely one of the most frustrating TV programmes ever. For every great performance (Devendra Banhart, M Ward, Joanna Newsom, Radiohead’s numerous appearances, and that truly jaw-dropping At The Drive-In performance2, which in one song demonstrating both exactly why they were such an amazing band, and exactly why that was going to cause their break-up), there’s always a pretty high duffer to decent ratio, a tedious nu-soul act every week, the tooth-gnashingly embarrassing intro, and the baffling lack of certain key artists, like – just to demonstrate who they’ve missed this year whilst on their current run, when all these artists were playing in London – Low, Bill Callahan and Sufjan Stevens.
2 Watch one half of the band trying to, you know, play the song, whilst the other half go totally mental. With the drummer in between just getting on with things. Oh, and Robbie Williams looks like someone’s just shat in his pint glass.