Scott Fisher & 1am Approach, Step Into The Future (2007)

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by Pico

On the radio they don’t play no rebel music.

A few months ago we bemoaned the dearth of talent promoted by record labels while there’s an abundance of it out there unsigned, and put forth Vancouver’s own Heidi McCurdy as an example of overlooked artistry. About three hundred miles south in Portland, Oregon is yet another diamond in the rough who also recently self released a CD of his originals.

His name is Scott Fisher and Step Into The Future is a welcome respite from the treadmill of heavily sampled, heavily clich├ęd state of pop music today. Fisher’s music, led by his acoustic piano, electric piano or organ (no synths allowed here) is homemade and handcrafted, something that we used to take for granted in an earlier era. He draws roughly equally from the wells of rock, soul, jazz and reggae, and sings as much about social injustice as he does the aches and pains of love.

When he sings of social injustice, as he does on numbers like “Step Into The Future,” “See The Day,” “3,000 Years,” “State Of Mind” and “No Remedy,” he does so with more than a passing nod to Jamaican greats Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. From lyrics like “The way they shape the truth and sell us wars/With indifference in the heart the veil of ignorance s worn” to the heavy faux Kingston twang, Fisher is downright channeling these reggae giants, or at least is making an earnest attempt to do so.

Instrumentally, Fisher is backed up amply by Bob Dunham (guitars), Enrique Gonzales (drums) and Matthew Voth (bass). It’s a tight little group with jazz sensibilities and a rock attitude. And lest anyone thinks self-released equates to poor recording quality, Fisher was able to bring in some major league engineers from L.A. to provide the finishing touches the gives this collection a clean but not-overdone sound.

All good pop records should have distinct songs unified by a distinct style and this one succeeds on that count. The title track immediately introduces the audience to Fisher’s funky piano-led brand of pop-reggae with a minimum reliance on technology (the acoustic bass is a nice touch). It features the leader railing against war, greed and religion…a recurring theme on this album…and his occasional, soulful falsetto. (Note: check the YouTube video of this song at the bottom of this article to see what I’m talking about.)

While they all send out the call for changing the world, the other ska-inflected tunes mixes in differing degrees of other influences; “No Remedy,” for instance, has a lot more soul and less jazz. “State of Mind” is more funk-minded. It’s not until we get into the fifth track, the urgent, war denunciating “3,000 Years” where Fisher really struts his stuff on the ivories during the instrumental break.

But it’s not all about island protest music, here. “Forgot About The Stars” is a heartfelt mid-tempo ballad. “Shades Of Blues” shows off a trumpet-led theme that could have been inspired by Sgt. Pepper. The effortless, folky groove of “Android Love” rides on an going beat that reminds me somewhat of the Commodores’ “Easy,” while the CD-ending “This Song” could have been comfortably placed on Elton John’s Honky Chateau.

All of this should tell you that Step Into The Future is varied, intelligent and honest.

Imagine a Marley-ized Ben Folds singing like Dave Matthews, with all the crisp musicianship and pop hooks that comes with that crowd. If this sounds appealing to you, then it might worth your nickels to drag Scott Fisher’s Step Into The Future into your virtual shopping cart. You’re not likely to be disappointed.

Video of “Step Into The Future”:

Purchase: Scott Fisher & 1am Approach – Step Into The Future

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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