Ron Sexsmith, Caitlin Rose Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Tue., March 22, 8 p.m. 2011

Ron Sexsmith has been making his sophisticated pop for two decades; he can give Elvis Costello a run for his money with his unexpected melodic shapes, and he has no equals when it comes to darkening the ebullience of a tune with stinging lyrics. But so far he's failed to score a hit, and because he's 47 now, that seems unlikely to change. He's still trying for all he's worth on his 11th full-length, Long Player Late Bloomer (Thirty Tigers), produced by hard-rock pro Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi): the rhythms are punchier than ever, and the keyboard-heavy arrangements are the slickest of his career. The album's sound would smother a lesser songwriter, but thanks to his expert turns of phrase and beguiling delivery, Sexsmith comes out on top—not even the unusual optimism of its second half, which is dominated by love songs where late romance dilutes lifelong bitterness, can make it feel like anything but a Ron Sexsmith record. It'd be great if he could make a commercial breakthrough, but if you've followed his career you already know that he writes nothing but hits. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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