Ron Sexsmith, with David Mead

In the video for his new single "Whatever It Takes," Ron Sexsmith makes his way through a sea of delicately disco-dancing young people; a couple of times he even gets close to shaking a leg himself, presumably moved to motion by the song's gorgeous soul-pop sparkle. Singer/songwriterdom needs more of this: Though Sexsmith is as earnest as they come -- check out the immobile sad-puppy frown on his face while he grooves -- Retriever, the Canadian's seventh album, isn't so intelligently introspective that it can't fit in scraps of full-color spirit like the fuzzy guitar chug that motors "Wishing Wells," or the nimble funk pulse underpinning opener "Hard Bargain." When he regrets that "we live in times where choice is frowned upon" in "From Now On," Sexsmith actually reaches out from behind his guitar and connects.

David Mead's new Indiana contains less visceral thrills, but he does do a pretty version of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" that old people might feel inclined to delicately disco-dance to.


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