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When Optimism and Realism Collide

Never Give Up

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A hopelessly romantic optimist, Ron Sexsmith remains unfashionably entrenched in pop's margins. hide caption

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Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Never Give Up"
  • Artist: Ron Sexsmith
  • CD: Time Being
  • Genre: Folk-Pop

A sweet-voiced pop singer whose accessibility borders on quaintness, Ron Sexsmith nevertheless remains unfashionably entrenched in pop's margins, relegated mostly to a career as a sought-after songwriter. After attracting public praise from virtually every credible rock star in the business — and releasing a string of widely acclaimed albums throughout the '90s — Sexsmith needed the intervention of Keifer Sutherland's vanity label to even get his new Time Being released in the U.S.

It may or may not attract a large audience, but Time Being radiates the warmth and kindness that have become Sexsmith's signatures — particularly on "Never Give Up," which extols the virtue of romantic faith in the face of lost innocence. Amid a softly sparkling acoustic backdrop, he addresses the "foolish dreams" he's cast aside, before reveling in a love that remains unchanged by external factors: "When times are bad, when things go wrong / what makes you sad will make me strong."

A hopelessly romantic optimist, Sexsmith nevertheless seems world-weary enough to sound like a realist: He's always clinging to faith — whether in love or in a benevolent God — even as he acknowledges the compromises, challenges and disappointments piling up around him. On "Never Give Up," he turns a simple sentiment into a statement of belief that sounds deeply felt and hard-won.

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