When a musician has a voice and style as immediately identifiable as singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, the producer often has a bigger hand than usual in making sure that any given album isn’t “just another Ron Sexsmith record.” For Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith works with fellow Canadian Bob Rock—best known for producing some of the biggest albums by Metallica, The Cult, and Mötley Crüe—and the result is Sexsmith’s most polished, poppy record since 2004‘s Retriever. Rock and Sexsmith set the tone with the sunny opener, “Get In Line,” a likeable enough song that’s strengthened by a snappy drumbeat, chiming guitars, and a warm accordion. From there, the songs on Long Player Late Bloomer continue to come across as fuller and livelier than Sexsmith’s usual, with less emphasis on the sweet, sleepy vocals and more emphasis on the blooming choruses and soulful undertones. The album does shade into generic MOR at times, but few modern soft-rock troubadours are capable of something as catchy and touching as “Michael And His Dad,” a vignette about an unemployed man finding time to play with his son. Like the best of LPLB, it’s a song that deserves every little extra production punch it can get, and Rock doesn’t let it down.
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