Ron Sexsmith's latest is listener-friendly and filled with catchy riffs, but the ear candy is just a feint from the lyrical lovers populating these songs who drive a "hard bargain" and the "imaginary friends" who "always let you down." The dichotomy serves him well, though, by allowing him to fashion a sense of detachment and thus conjure the idea of his protagonist as victim. Sexsmith moves through these numbers with a surreal aloofness that adds to the victimization he creates through the lyric/music clash. His crowning grace comes on "Happiness," a Partridge Family-esque tune in which he settles into a relationship just because "it'll do." With the exception of "Hard Bargain" and "Wishing Wells," the music and lyrics seem a bit understated, but if you've been done wrong and want someone to commiserate with, Ron Sexsmith is your man. Just don't expect a whole lot of pity.
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