By Greg Kot
Updated March 02, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

The singer-songwriter’s sonorous voice can make even the darkest emotions sound bearable. On his 11th album, Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith tunnels out from melancholy, lifted by his pliant croon and effortless melodies. Metallica producer Bob Rock keeps everything neat and amiable: This is immaculate pop appointed with sighing pedal steel, slide guitars, and saloon piano — but in need of a few more scuff marks to underline its turbulent lyrics. B