Ron Sexsmith brings his talent to Largo
by Naughty Mickie

Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles is one of the nicest venues around for a show. It boasts a lovely courtyard to hang out on before the show and during intermission, clean bathrooms and a full theater inside with comfortable seating, a nicely raised stage and a terrific sound system. All of this made for a perfect spot for an evening of music.

First up was singer/songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou. Born and raised in South Africa, the charming blonde makes her living as a street musician in Berlin and she is happy about it. She was even happier to be performing in America for an almost-packed house. Lou's voice is sweet, yet strong and her guitar playing is solid. Her songs are interesting, letting the listener in on her unique view of the world. My only gripes are that at times the story told in the lyrics gave way for the rhyme scheme, making some of the lines seem forced, and that almost every piece lacked any kind of a chorus. This is not music you can quickly sing with in the car, it is meant to be listened to, disseminated and explored, as it has several levels. 

I definitely liked Lou and would gladly see her live again, but I'm still torn on whether her songwriting will improve as she matures or she's actually wise and creative beyond her years. Either way, I believe Lou is one to watch and I wouldn't be surprised to see her on the bill for Coachella or any one (or all) of a smattering of mega-festivals next years.

Canadian singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith was the headliner. Sexsmith's songs have been covered by artists like k.d. lang and Emmylou Harris and he is the subject of the 2010 documentary film, "Love Shines." Although his name was familiar, I'll admit that I couldn't place even one of his tunes, but after checking Sexsmith out online I realized I've listened to a lot of his music over the years and enjoyed it. 

Largo had filled up even more when Sexsmith and his four-piece band hit the stage and by the time he was halfway through his second song of the night, I said to my friend sitting next to me, "Wow, he can write." And Sexsmith does pen great songs, he also sings and plays guitar and piano well and is an all-around competent and intriguing performer. 

Sexsmith varied his show in the types of tunes, as well as what he played with his band and what he played solo. I particularly enjoyed the intimate moments when he sat at the piano. The best of this was for the song, "Brandy Alexander," which he wrote with Feist. He started out solo and then the band quietly appeared on stage grouped around a microphone to offer almost doo wop-styled backup vocals. 

Sexsmith's upbeat songs were fun and his ballads pulled you in. This was a great opportunity to hear one of the best songwriters today performing his work as it is meant to be heard and the standing ovation proved the audience's appreciation of the time spent. Sexsmith shines like a diamond in an industry burgeoning with cubic zirconia, simplys said, he is a must-see for anyone who appreciates the craft of music

Alice Phoebe Lou www.alicephoebelou.com

Ron Sexsmith http://www.ronsexsmith.com

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