Listening to Mint Juleps, the fifth album by two-time Juno Award nominee Jeremy Fisher, is like ambling through the long and relaxed dog days of summer. The acoustic-driven collection of 12 songs reunites Fisher with his folk-drenched musical roots and is a veritable throwback to the golden era of the singer-songwriter.That’s not to say that Jeremy Fisher lives in the past. On the contrary, the Ottawa-based musician’s craft is deeply imbued with a modern insight that has made him a strong and enduring musical storyteller. He thus inhabits a one-of-a-kind space in this current musical landscape as a rather timeless troubadour.A blend of both brand new tracks and hand-picked covers, Mint Juleps is a fine new feather in Fisher’s cap that he says best represents him as an independent musician, and as a live performer. “The concept of the record was to make something that reflects what I do night after night on stage,” Fisher explains. “I wanted to make an album that had the spirit of my live show, which I think hinges on letting my guard down enough to allow unrestrained moments of spontaneity.”An ode to the glory of the record as a whole, the sophistication of Mint Juleps is in its inherent simplicity. Recorded live off the studio floor, this decidedly unembellished method of capturing the songs was a challenge for Fisher, but it was also a liberating experience. “There is something authentic to it - it’s just me and a couple of guys playing these songs, and we’re not perfect. But it’s the most honest way I could think to make a record,” says Fisher. “It was really hard sometimes not to defer to the modern way of recording music. But I really gave in to the process, letting the album become a living and breathing thing.”The album opens with the song “Gone”, a cover song of a John Hiatt classic that pays a twang-infused homage its original.“I had five songs written that I wanted to record, and then I decided that I would round out the rest of the tracks with covers that I have played live over the years,” says Fisher of the album. “In a way it gives the album two different sides, even though the songs are intermixed. The common thread that binds them is the way in which we recorded them – as live performances in the studio with a small group of musicians playing off each other’s dynamics.”In between the interpretations of songs by the likes of Greg Brown, Jean Leloup, and Lowest of the Low are a mélange of songs penned by Fisher that capture him at his absolute finest.“Built To Last” is a catchy parable of taking care of oneself and the world at large by embracing a simple kind of life. It’s a pointed message for the current political landscape set to an irresistible toe-tapping melody.“What I like about that song is how it sums up my personality,” says Fisher. “The metaphor of the bike is about doing things for yourself and about being self-propelled. But I also love daydreaming and riding my bike is exactly that – it’s downtime, it’s relaxing.”The record also highlights the sincerity of Fisher’s balladeer styling on “The Part That Breaks” – a bittersweet and elegant song about the aftermath of love disappeared. Not one to let things get too heavy, the trademark whimsy and wit of Fisher’s lyricism drives songs like “Tetris Song” where he creates perhaps his sweetest love song yet through the not-so-obviously romantic metaphor of a mathematic equation.It’s wit, says Fisher, that adds surprise and meaning to his music and performance. “The songwriters I admire the most like John Prine, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman are able to make you laugh and break your heart in the same couplet. There is something about humor that opens us up to new possibilities or ideas in life, it has a direct way of communicating vulnerability.”It’s the genuine and instinctive showmanship of Jeremy Fisher’s live performance that he may be best known for. “What I live for are the moments where I couldn’t even predetermine what would happen next,” Fisher reflects. Fans are continually engaged by his effortless storytelling -he’s one man on a stage sharing a moment with those around him.In 2010 Fisher launched a unique tour of the west coast called The Malahat Revue with fellow artists Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas, and Aidan Knight. Fisher travelled by bike with gear in tow, and pedaled roughly 500km from Vancouver to Saltspring Island, and then from Pender Island to Vancouver Island, across to the Sunshine Coast endingthe tour with a closing set at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival.No stranger to touring by bike, since 1998 he has completed the journey across North America three times. In 2001 he gained notoriety as he pedaled his way from Seattle to Halifax in support of his debut album. Dubbed “One Less Tourbus”, his travels covered more than 7500 km and took more than six months to complete.That sort of DIY attitude that infuses Fisher’s touring ethos replicates itself in the strong visual component of his music, for which he has also become renowned.After producing distinctively charming animated videos for his own music, as well as a satirical web series, Fisher’s talents for filmmaking positioned him as a highly sought after collaborator for music videos by other artists including Adam Cohen, Hannah Georgas, Xavier Rudd, and Hawksley Workman.Therein lies the true gift that makes Jeremy Fisher's talents so relatable and appreciated by media and fans alike. He stands out by creating artrooted in timeless imagery, dressed with a consummate wit, honesty and lightheartedness. He is without a doubt a modern-day folk hero who is bringing back the nearly forgotten art of making a great record from start to finish, and forging a career path that is built to endure.
Jeremy Fisher songwriter, musician