Produced by Steve Earle, Blue Boy has a more polished and eclectic sound than Sexsmith’s first few releases. He dabbles in reggae and torch styles, along with his usual quiet balladry and pop rock staples, and manages to make it all sound of a piece.
These Random Weekend selections have a knack for making me feel old. Today’s track comes from Ron Sexsmith’s album Blue Boy, my introduction to him and probably my favorite of his albums (as introductory records often are). This album was released in 2001 — 16 years ago!
Is it really possible that I discovered Ron Sexsmith before I had my first child? For that matter, is it really possible that my first child is already driving?
One of the most surprising, and effective, tracks on Blue Boy is the jazzy torch ballad ‘Foolproof.’ This was Ron Sexsmith’s first prominent use of horns on an album, a flourish he’d return to on later records.
The lonely Chet Baker-style trumpet and brushed drums remind me of Elvis Costello’s ‘Almost Blue,’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if that track wasn’t an influence on this one. Or perhaps both Elvis and Ron were influenced by the same unnamed song when writing their own smokey piano bar ballads.
Ron Sexsmith kept up his pace of releasing an album every two years, putting out Blue Boy in 2001. I believe this might have been my first exposure to his music, as it was his highest profile release to that date.
In keeping with the old entry point theory, I still consider it his best work (though the competition is stiff).
Blue Boy, produced by Steve Earle, took Sexsmith into several new directions — jazz and reggae, to name a couple. One track borders on psychedelia. But the perfect melodies and introspective lyrics remained intact.