Rychard Carrington reports on Ron Sexsmith and Delta Maid - The Junction, Cambridge, 28 June 2011

Ron Sexsmith
Junction 1, The

The show was opened by one Delta Maid, a young country singer performing, agreeably, completely solo. She has a strong country voice and good self-penned material, as well as talent as a country-blues acoustic guitarist. The incongruous Liverpool accent added to her charm. She was very well received, and rightfully so.  


It's always good to see a deserving artist playing to a large and appreciative crowd of devotees. Such was definitely the case with Ron Sexsmith tonight. Many present, one suspected, had got most or even all of his twelve albums. For such fans the mere circumstance of a live appearance is sufficient; a strong performance is a bonus. At The Junction the bonus was delivered. Impressively, the set list was adapted to accommodate pre-show requests: evidently individual listeners develop their own personal favourites. It's not a matter of everyone waiting for the big hits, which was nice. 


Sexsmith is known for two characteristics. Firstly, he is often marketed as gawky, geeky, retiring, so-uncool-he's-cool, etc. Beyond a lack of rock star arrogance, there was little of this in evidence at the show. I'm pleased he did not aspire to living up to caricature, yet it's always a little disappointing when an evidently interesting musician choses not to talk very much during the set. I didn't really get to know Ron Sexsmith any better; I just witnessed an a confident, pleasant singer on tour.


Secondly Sexsmith is respected as a songwriter of quality. The show proved that there can be little doubt that he is that. These songs were all good, with literature, sensitive, honest lyrics and rich melodies. First impressions were strong, giving me the desire to get better acquainted with the numbers.


Much has been made of the commercial rock production on Sexsmith's new album. In fact there's been the familiar singer-songwriter career trajectory away from acoustic and solo to soft rock. It's a trajectory I normally deplore, as soft rock is invariably blander than the lone acoustic artist. While it's true that a brief section of acoustic performances was probably my favourite part of the show, Sexsmith's songs worked better in band arrangements (electric guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, drums) than I feared. The essential sound of the band is enjoyable, and not inappropriate for many of the compositions. The set closer Love Shines may just sound like MOR pop, but other numbers such as Secret Heart, Get In Line and Strawberry Blonde were well-delivered, well-crafted, emotionally powerful numbers in the singer-songwriter tradition. Perhaps what seals their success is the gentle charm of Sexsmith's voice, which suggests someone incapable of anything other than deep sincerity. Good man; good show.


Writer: Rychard Carrington