Nowhere to Go
Ron Sexsmith, from the forthcoming Forever Endeavour (Warner); streaming at ronsexsmith.com.
More gorgeous melancholia from Ron Sexsmith, a singer-songwriter who sees the flip side to Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong. On his last album, 2011's Long Player Late Bloomer, Sexsmith worked with Bob Rock, who helped him reach for brass rings. The record was successful in many ways, but perhaps not the hit wildly dreamed of. Now, the sound is stripped back down, with Sexsmith's former producer Mitchell Froom perhaps restoring a comfort zone. A French horn introduces sinking feelings: "Stuck in a painting, unable to cry or to make a sound, and there's nowhere to go but down." There are few who could translate Newton's law with such grace, and with a voice that never lowers itself to the down moods about which it sings. Lovely.
A Minor Key Christmas Medley
Chilly Gonzalez; streaming at soundcloud.com.
He stirs, always. The self-styled Canadian-Berliner-French musical genius and piano virtuoso, workaholic Grammy-nominated producer, Guinness World Record holder and prankster rapper sends the The Little Drummer Boy, Jingle Bells and Silent Night to the minor leagues, but this is no demotion.
When Rock 'N' Roll Was Just a Baby
Texas is the Reason, from the forthcoming Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection (Revelation); streaming rollingstone.com.
Apparently, when rock 'n' roll was just a baby, it sounded like an emo-version of Rush. Recently reunited nineties band set to revisit and rerelease its only album next year, adding this rugged track – the last it ever wrote as a band – to the package.
Kate and Anna McGarrigle; streaming at music.cbc.ca.
"Some people say your sister will do." Obviously a poignant traditional song, and even more so when arranged as a haunting a cappella by sibling songbirds Anna and (the late) Kate McGarrigle. An unreleased live recording from 1963, likely at the 5th Dimension club or the Montreal Folk Workshop.
Zach Sobiech; streaming at youtube.com.
"If only I had a little bit more time." A 17-year-old singer with terminal cancer eyes the clouds and makes Jack Johnson-like music, with xylophone twinkles and an upbeat yellow-ribbon rhythm. The uplifting video is simple: just a standard recording studio scene. But the story is deeper – no time for sorrow or any fancy vignette.