Half man, half melody Ron Sexsmith releases new album 'The Vivian Line’

‘The Vivian Line’ is the 17th album entry in Ron Sexsmith’s compelling discography, one matched by very few contemporary singer/songwriters. His catalogue has earned him immense peer respect and a loyal international following, and this new release captures Ron at the top of his creative game.

With one exception, these new songs all flowed from Sexsmith’s fertile musical and lyrical imagination in a short period of 2021 during covid. “The songs came out of nowhere,” Ron explains. “I wasn’t really writing after the release of my previous album, ‘Hermitage’. The older I get, the more I think ‘maybe this is it,’ but then I found myself with new ideas again and got excited.” Reflecting upon the songs on the new album now, Sexsmith notes that “initially I thought they were an extension of ‘Hermitage’, which was very much about domestic bliss and my new life here in Stratford, Ontario. After the fact, I see them as a little weightier than 'Hermitage', which was very playful. There is more of a wistful feel to these songs.”

‘The Vivian Line’ is named after a rural route near Ron’s house, and he views it as “representing a sort of portal between my old life in Toronto and my new life here.”

Though comprising solo compositions only, ‘The Vivian Line’ owes plenty to Ron’s key creative collaborator here, producer/multi-instrumentalist Brad Jones. The much in-demand Nashville-based Jones has previously worked with such ace singer/songwriters as Josh Rouse, Marshall Crenshaw, and Matthew Sweet, and he proved an ideal studio partner for Sexsmith.

Intriguingly, Brad had worked with Ron on three early albums, in the far more limited role of bassist. “Back then we always talked about doing something together, but I hadn’t seen or talked to him in over a decade,” says Ron. “I reached out to him, and when I sent him demos of these songs that I recorded in Stratford, I got excited talking to him about what he had in mind for the record. Brad called that vision ‘baroque pop,’ using strings, woodwinds, and instruments like harpsichords. That sound always appealed to me, and I've done some records like that earlier, but I feel I can sing better now. 

A brief window of opportunity during the fall 2021 Covid season allowed Ron to travel to Music City and record at Jones’ Alex the Great studio, one Sexsmith calls “funky and comfortable.” Bed tracks with a drummer, were recorded quickly, with Sexsmith and Jones each playing a multitude of instruments. “I did some keyboards and played most of the guitars,” says Ron, with Jones credited on bass, recorder, harpsichord, piano, Fender Rhodes, harmonium, harmonica and more. A day each was then spent on strings and woodwinds, with Jones mixing the results. “It was almost scary how smoothly it went,” notes Ron. “I was so impressed with Brad every step of the way. It was almost annoying how he was always right about everything, so after a certain point I just gave in – ‘just tell me what you want me to do.’”

The result is a beautifully rich and evocative sounding album. The vast array of instrumentation plus female harmony and backing vocals are employed subtly and judiciously, and Sexsmith is at the top of his game with his vocal performance. ‘The Vivian Line’ is guaranteed to delight the Sexsmith faithful out there and deserves to attract new fans to the fold. Those already deeply appreciative of Ron’s songwriting chops include a stellar list of vocalists to have recorded Sexsmith compositions. That group includes such international stars as Rod Stewart, Emmylou Harris, Nick Lowe, plus Canadian favourites Michael Buble, Feist, and k.d. lang. Sexsmith’s work has also elicited effusive praise from the likes of Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, and Chris Martin, to name just a few. Over the course of a recording career now spanning 36 years, Ron has been nominated for 12 Juno awards (Canada’s Grammys equivalent), winning three times.

Now it’s time to visit ‘The Vivian Line’ HERE. Explore, linger, enjoy.

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