Ron Sexsmith @ Club Soda

Two of the brightest stars in the Warner Canada Music stable brought their show to Montreal last night. They are at different stages of their careers with Ron Sexsmith being an established artist and Meaghan Smith just starting out, but they both showed that there are plenty of reasons to be excited about where both acts careers are headed.

Meaghan Smith is a young singer from London, Ontario who has just been signed to the Sire/Warner label. Live she is equal parts actress and singer. Each of her songs tells a story (often humourous) and she seems more than willing to act each one out.

She has been compared to Sarah Slean due to her dramatic presentation of her songs live. I would somewhat agree with that but soundwise she is more along the lines of another Sarah, as in Harmer. If you close your eyes while listening to Meaghan sing you almost feel as if you are at a country fair. Her music has that kind of vibe. Everything about the music is quirky and quaint (if I was to describe her music using only words that begin with the letter 'q'). With Meaghan you get plenty of finger snapping, whistling and playing of the omnichord. No hard and fast rules with this gal as she even changed things up by playing a song that had some of turntabler Kid Koala in the background. Folk mixed with scratching worked for her. Meaghan's voice is strong when it has to be and soft when required. There were plenty of vocal gymnastics, but not of the annoying Christina Aguilera-type. She easily switched from sultry to smoky to full-voiced to soprano and round the bend again. Definitely an artist to keep on the look out for.

I normally pride myself on being pretty au courant when it comes to Canadian artists, but I have to admit (with a deep shame) that I am quite ignorant when it comes to Ron Sexsmith. Last night's show shed light on the error of my ways. I am now a convert to the church of Ron Sexsmith.

Everything about this guy is quiet but his talent as it speaks the volumes he doesn't. Ron Sexsmith takes the stage with his unassuming presence and slowly yet surely wins you over with his witty (but quiet) stage banter and his beautiful songs. This is an Ordinary Joe who makes everyone in the crowd believe that we could do what he's doing because he makes it seem so easy. But, trust me, there are few who can write a lyric like this man can. His words have the power to break your heart and then pick up your spirits in the span of a few mere moments. This is talent, folks!

When reviewing a Ron Sexsmith show you have to discuss his wizardry with the English word. His writing is exquisite with every word having an impact. He makes you feel what he is singing. And he never takes the easy way out. For instance, he has not written so-called 'protest' songs like everyone and his dog seem to be doing. Criticizing our governments or the state of the world is easy. Sexsmith wants to be part of the solution and not the problem. In his song "Hands of Time" he sings, "All we have is here and now and I wouldn't change a thing". Accentuate the positive is what this guy is all about and I, for one, found it refreshing.

As a performer Ron Sexsmith is the antithesis of artists like Madonna. There are no costume changes, no cars onstage, a different setlist every show, and no need for kneepads. The entire focus is on the music. With his pleasing voice and mad skills on the acoustic guitar he is able to focus your entire attention on what he is singing. No small feat in today's times of short attention spans.

Meaghan Smith Setlist:
1) I Know
2) If You Asked Me
3) Drifting Apart
4) A Secret My Heart Can't Keep (w/Kid Koala)
5) You Got Out
6) Poor
7) Fly Me to the Moon (cover)
8) 5 More Minutes

Ron Sexsmith Setlist:
1) Hard Bargain
2) Just My Heart Talkin'
3) Brandy Alexander
4) Poor Helpless Dreams
5) Seem to Recall
6) Hands of Time
7) Disappearing Act
8) Ghost of a Chance
9) One Last Round
10) Lebanon Tennessee
11) Snow Angel
12) Speaking With the Angels
13) Tomorrow in Her Eyes
14) Brighter Still
15) Strawberry Blonde
16) Summer Blowin' Town
17) All in Good Time
18) Hard Time
19) This is How I Know
20) Not About to Lose
21) Gold in Them Hills
Encore:
22) Secret Heart
23) Cheap Hotel
24) God Loves Everyone

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