Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith was once a courier in his native Canada. ”My two favorite things have always been being by myself and walking around, so it was like the perfect job,” says the boyish, soft-spoken 33-year-old. Armed with many of the songs he wrote while walking, Sexsmith was signed to Interscope in 1994 and cut a sweetly poignant eponymous album that won unbridled critical acclaim. Elvis Costello was seen holding the album on the cover of Q, the British music magazine, and called the simply crafted debut ”a modest and elegant gem.” Since then, Sexsmith has toured the world, made a big splash in Japan, of all places, and had breakfast with Paul and Linda McCartney, at their request.
But don’t feel left out if you’ve never heard of him. Sexsmith, who lives in Toronto with his wife and two kids, says, ”My whole idea is about taking a stand.” And that means writing music with a level of poetic honesty that doesn’t lend itself to alternative radio or MTV. The first cut on his just-released second album, Other Songs, includes the line ”I’m trying to raise my love above these ruins.” In an age of inferior songcraft, the same could be said for Sexsmith’s superior tunes — richly melodic rockers and ballads made still richer by his vulner-able tenor and producer Mitchell Froom’s quirky arrangements. And the ruins Sexsmith is rising above? ”It’s a kind of a very cynical time, and cynicism doesn’t seem to amount to very much,” he says. ”I don’t think it’s a good way to be.”