[16 September 2007]
At his best, Canadian singer-songwriter Jeremy Fisher recalls the snappy, rhythmic pop-folk of Paul Simon in the early 1970s on this tuneful debut. Latin rhythms, acoustic guitar, and clever wordplay make this disc a lot of fun to listen to, especially on songs like the YouTube hit “Cigarette”, in which Fisher likens his romantic appeal to being like a bad habit. Fisher’s wispy vocals combine with producer Hawksley Workman’s spare, low-key sound to create an offhand intimacy that makes it seem like Fisher is confiding his thoughts only to you, the listener. On “American Girls”, Fisher takes on a subject similar to “American Woman”, done by fellow Canadians The Guess Who decades ago. But Fisher’s number is less of a diatribe against US females and more of a semi-serious complaint with lines like “I’m naked on this leash / American girls’ got me beat”. Funny stuff. It’s less amusing when Fisher waxes serious, because while his Paul Simon influence sounds natural, his Bruce Springsteen inclinations come off as unintentional satire. Would-be political anthems like “Fall for Anything” and “Lay Down (Ballad of Rigoberto Alpizar)” are either didactic or too cliché. Ironically, they also reveal less of the songwriter’s observational eye than his “lighter” songs like his wry, bemused look back at “High School”. This U.S. release marks the first time a Fisher CD gets an official airing outside of his native Canada, where the Vancouver-based Fisher has already released two CDs; it’s a noteworthy—though somewhat uneven—welcome to a larger audience.