CD Review of Goodbye Blue Monday by Jeremy Fisher

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Goodbye Blue Monday
starstarstarstarno star Label: Wind-Up
Released: 2007
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Paul Simon needs to get himself to a doctor and order up a series of X-rays, because someone has apparently stolen one of his ribs and used it to create a singer/songwriter named Jeremy Fisher. And not the post-midlife crisis Paul Simon, either.

Drawing a line from one artist to another is a hallmark of the lazy critic, but in this case, the comparisons are close to unavoidable; Simon’s influence on Fisher’s work transcends your typical level of RIYL stab-in-the-dark familiarity, to the point that a number of the songs on Fisher’s American debut, Goodbye Blue Monday, sound almost like lost songs from one of Simon’s stellar early ‘70s solo albums. And this isn’t a knock on Fisher, not in the slightest – yes, the vocal similarity is plain, and yes, a handful of his chord changes are wholesale Simon rips, but what Fisher really captures here is the feeling of a talented songwriter confidently coming into his own. The album is a solid block of effortlessly enjoyable, brain-meltingly catchy songs that only dig their hooks deeper with further listens.

And oh yeah, it works well as an album, too. On nine out of ten 2007 releases, a song as hooky and flawlessly compact as leadoff track “Scar That Never Heals” – think “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” turned sideways, with a dash of “Blister in the Sun” – would be the undisputed prize in the Cracker Jack box, a hit single in waiting among filler cuts. But Fisher keeps knocking ‘em out of the park – there’s the singalong swagger of “Cigarette” and “High School,” the deceptively soothing “Lay Down (Ballad of Rigoberto Alpizar),” the effortlessly catchy title track…the list goes on and on; in fact, there really isn’t a bum song in the bunch.

The album’s production – handled by Canadian pop icon Hawksley Workman – adds to the material’s timeless vibe, buttressing Fisher’s hooks with an assortment of classic pop gewgaws including handclaps, xylophone, accordion, and gang background vocals that defy you not to break out in a big, stupid grin. Fisher’s American label, Wind-Up, has had a lot to answer for since unleashing Creed and Evanescence on an unsuspecting public; with Goodbye Blue Monday, they’ve begun inching the scales of musical justice back in their favor.

~Jeff Giles