Cooking Vinyl – 2001 – 43 minutes

Bashful and earnest, the baby-faced Canadian Ron Sexsmith sometimes comes across as being almost too fragile for this world. Often photographed peering shyly out from under his fringe, the songs he writes combine wide-eyed sincerity with simple but memorable melodies.

While leaning more towards a rockier Sexsmith, 'Blue Boy' still showcases his ever-melancholy voice. Recently dropped by his American record label, this album has been released on the English independent Cooking Vinyl. 'This Song' - one of the first Sexsmith tunes it's possible to dance around the room to - addresses this event, musing on the difficulty of creativity surviving everyday life "For hate is strong/and darkness thrives/How can this song survive?"

Despite his doubts, Sexsmith's are the kind of songs that do survive. In 'Cheap Hotel' he sets the tale of a battered runaway wife to a sweet melody. 'Foolproof' sounds like a torch song, sung late in a smoky bar and boasts his piano playing album debut. 'Not too Big' is funky, and the album closes with, 'Fallen', a simple and beautiful love song.

In the past, Sexsmith has sometimes been fey to the point of being slapable. There are still elements of that here but Steve Earle's meatier production adds a welcome oomph to Sexsmith's sound. Watch out for the little boy blue.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: This Song - Cheap Hotel - Don't Ask Why - Foolproof - Tell Me Again - Just My Heart Talkin' - Not Too Big - Miracle In Itself - Thirsty Love - Never Been Done - Thumbelina Farewell - Parable - Keep It In Mind – Fallen

Read a review of Ron Sexsmith's gig at the Rosín Dubh in Galway last summer.