When an artist like Ron Sexsmith releases a new album, it's easy to take for granted that it will be as strong as anything in his wonderfully reliable catalog. His gift for crafting relatable, warm-hearted, and effortless-sounding guitar pop has been proven time and time again, and while some albums turn out better than others, none are bereft of at least a few memorable gems. A track record like this presents a pretty tough standard for any artist to match, but like a best friend whose support you can always count on, Sexsmith's legacy is his consistency and he delivers once again on his 14th LP. Named for the LAX luggage carousel that receives bags coming from Toronto to Los Angeles, Carousel One is a lengthy effort (16 tracks) full of more diversity and playfulness than either of his last two outings. While 2011's slick Long Player Late Bloomer seemed aimed at a commercial breakthrough, and 2013's understated Forever Endeavour was a more somber acoustic affair, Carousel One strikes a nice balance between Sexsmith's many sides. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Foo Fighters) and aided by a crack band of studio vets, the songs veer from cheerful, buoyant pop tunes like "Before the Light Is Gone" to wistful odes like "Loving You" and witty midtempo rockers like "Saint Bernard." There's even a surprising boogie-blues number called "Getaway Car." It's a casual and friendly record with less of the nostalgic melancholy Sexsmith is frequently known for, and with 20 years of high-quality releases and a successful, if somewhat modest career to his credit, who can blame the man for sounding happy?
Carousel One Review
by Timothy Monger