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On his song "Saint Bernard" he sings about man's best friend, only in this case it happens to be a portrait of the title's dog hanging on the wall of his home. Yet beneath quips like calling the dog "a four-legged minibar" there's something utterly crushing about how the narrator can't rely on a living pet to provide comfort. Most of the album, however, is more optimistic—a relatively new mode for Sexsmith, who once rivaled the bitterness of vintage Elvis Costello in his withering portraits of soured romance—and some of his best songs subvert cliches in winning couplets, such as the chorus of "Lucky Penny," where he avers "She's my lucky penny / When I ain't got a lousy dime."
Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "Getaway Car," a gem with a serious Ray Davies vibe—Sexsmith's charmingly lethargic delivery plays well against some stock rock 'n' roll guitar and piano licks, reminding me of a classic late-60s Kinks record—while the words celebrate the innate understanding the singer and his romantic partner share when one or the other needs rescuing. "Remember when / That songwriters circle nearly brought me down / You could see the look all over my face / And you instinctively new to pull the car around." Sexmith performs tonight at the Old Town School.