‘All songs written by Ryan Fisherman, co-written by mental health.’ So notes the Bandcamp credits to this 10-song album released mid-May, the first solo album from Cantabrian Fisherman, for which he also shares production with Lyttelton’s cool country specialist Ben Edwards.
Fisherman’s former Doprah bandmate Indira Force adds some BVs and piano, while drummer Joe McCallum provides a mostly reserved backdrop of typically high quality. There’s a whole bunch of other nicknamed musicians directly or indirectly involved, all of which results in a very pleasing ‘Vibe’, a gently paced, thoughtful alt-country album of elegance and eloquence.
Space is plentiful, the dominant decoration throughout being carefully measured hollow-body guitar, tonally diverse with country and jazz vibes stretching to soft rock a la Mark Knopfler in places, but always restrained in use. Similarly, it’s four songs in before Fisherman’s naturally understated vocals are allowed to cut anything like loose (in The Price), and it’s well-timed to break the developing mood.
Old Man In Me resonates with the spirit of Marlon Williams, and to his credit Fisherman holds attention almost as well as that young Lyttelton jedi. The theme of restraint maxes out with Waiting For What, a love-lost duet shared with Anita Clarke aka Motte, that is so achingly vulnerable it threatens to stall in places. ‘I was waiting on a thing they call love; Seems that death took hold of your heart; Now I’m waiting just waiting for what.’
Surprisingly, it’s the songs most directly contemplating the subject of mental health, towards the end of the album, which let things slip.
In using the most upbeat poppy rhythm on the album, Down becomes the cheesiest of songs here, despite the lyrics. ‘Depression got you down down in this hole; Not one you dug but always seem to fall; Don’t let it take you down man, don’t let go.’
Likewise, Peace Of Mind, which follows, is musically more jolly than its lyrical content which seems like a message-to-self. ‘Dude just stop, quit racing the clock; You clearly need help; All these doors to brain that crossfade all this pain; It’s your mind it’s your head; Let it out for your health.’
The all-too-brief closing track Rua is a delightful three-line message of hope that puts a bow on what is a charming and thought provoking package. The vibe is strong with this one.