The pairing of gentle, soulful singer and songwriter Ron Sexsmith with master metal producer Bob Rock seems fairly unlikely, but the results are beautiful, inspired. Sexsmith is still very much himself—sweet voiced, nuanced, clever—but his vocals are more fierce (everything’s relative), and the harmonious arrangements include some judiciously placed rock elements that give the artist’s songs more dynamic power. There’s also something endearingly old-fashioned—slightly new-wave—about these recordings, with Sexsmith’s throaty voice on top of pop/rock tracks played by a stellar group assembled by Rock: guitarist Rusy Anderson, bassist Paul Bushnell, keyboardist Jamie Edwards and drummer Josh Freese. The romantic song “Middle of Love,” for example, almost sounds like a lost Squeeze single. This record is a terrific surprise that’s worthy of Sexsmith and Rock.
Produced and recorded by Bob Rock. Additional engineering: Jamey Koch, Zach Blackstone, Eric Helmkamp. Recording studios: Sage and Sound Recording (Hollywood), The Orange Lounge (Toronto, Ontario), The Warehouse Studio (Vancouver, B.C.). Mixing studio: Plantation Recording and Mixing (Maui). Mastering: George Marino/Sterling Sound (New York City).