Volume 93, Issue 2
Friday, May 21, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Ron Sexsmith gets fresh
One of the first things printed on the liner notes of Ron Sexsmith's new album reads "Hello, and welcome to my third album (well, fourth actually if you include 'Grand Opera Lane'). But anyway, here it is..."
This congenial welcome is an appropriate introduction to an album so irrefutably intimate that Sexsmith's invitation to voyeur his world is well worth taking.
Sexsmith also claims this record is more extroverted than his earlier works. Although this seems exaggerated, some songs such as "The Idiot Boy" and escape the strict mellow acoustic ethic which dominates the album. The presence of strings, wind instruments and timid percussion work nicely to colour an otherwise subtle collection of songs.
Lyrically, Whereabouts reads like Sexsmith's most private thoughts and reflections. The selections focus on everything from love elegies to pastoral snapshots to the transitions of life. But their meanings are not so obscure as to be lost on the listener. This is enhanced by Sexsmith's pliable crooning the words slowly and smoothly roll off his tongue.
Although the dominating ethereal sounds of Whereabouts may hold it back from any top 10 lists, this relaxed album fits comfortably among other sentimental collections.
Naughty By Nature
Nineteen Naughty-Nine: Nature's Fury
In the past, Naughty By Nature was notorious for fusing bubble gum sounds with hardcore subject matter, producing hits like "Hip Hop Hooray" and "O.P.P.."
Since those days of old, meaningful lyrics in rap have deteriorated to the point where Master P's guttural "unnngghh" is considered an intelligent cultural statement.
Nineteen Naughty-Nine: Nature's Fury picks up exactly where they left off six years ago by fusing socially conscious lyrics with infectious beats.
The new Naughty By Nature is definitely a vintage wine improved with age. Frontman Treach is still a quick-tongued lyrical prophet and producer/DJ Kay Gee still effortlessly provides the band with a dynamic rhythmic backbone.
The result is an album which jumps with ease from smooth party jams to hardcore efforts. "Live or Die" is one example of the latter.
All told, Nineteen Naughty-Nine is a perfect summer record. The album conjures up memories of a time when masters of the mike like LL Cool J, Run DMC and Public Enemy grabbed urban consciousness with gaudy ringed fingers and forced their ghetto philosophies into the mainstream.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999