Seventies/Eighties AOR poppy Americana from a Missourian transplanted to Mid-Europe
Reading the bio for Ian Fisher, one’s mind might easily conjure up the dusty, gritty acoustic epithets waiting to flow from your gramophone speaker. Stop right there, dear AUK reader. Little of this awaits you. Instead, Fisher’s collection of songs is lush and poppy, radio-friendly and really only skirting the fringes of what we might call Americana. Though they are definitely worth our consideration, are they any good? Yes they are, but with some caveats. One might argue that they’re a little too rich, somewhat overproduced. Fisher is almost dated in his overall sound – a kitchen sink of guitars and echoes which serves to muddy the waters and the stories carried within the songs. This the first time that Fisher has used a ‘producer’ for his music, and it hasn’t really worked out for him. The light, airy Paul Simon-esque voice is lost at times. Add to this a couple of ‘intermission’ songs – tiny sketches of music and lyrics. To be frank, they’re unnecessary. Fisher does ditch the soupy arrangement, opting for something starker on ‘Three Chords and the Truth’. Despite the hackneyed title, the song is all the better for the omissions. ‘It Ain’t Me’ offers a more balanced musical blend, somewhere between the fat and the lean. Despite it being tucked towards the end of the record, it’s a standout track. In fact, the latter stretches of the collection contains the best songs; certainly the best arrangements. Final track ‘Ghosts of the Ryman’ certainly has the best vocal melody, though that simple appeal gets lost (again) in the soupy arrangement and ponderous guitar over piano outro.
If lush, poppy Americana is your thing, then there’s plenty here to satisfy the ears. However, the latter tracks are more likely to be to the tastes of the ‘man in the street’ Americana enthusiast.