It’s not a typical publicity shot, but one of my favourite pictures of Jeremy Fisher has him posing with a taxidermied coyote. The coyote looks like he’s about to pounce, while Jeremy, cradling the animal, looks bored, as if challenging us to question the scenario: man/coyote/blue velvet couch. So?
It’s a wonderful image, and listening to his new album, The Lemon Squeeze, I realized that it’s entirely appropriate. Jeremy Fisher is the Coyote, the “messenger, the culture hero, the fool…the transformer.” With his playful use of language, with the way he incorporates touchstones of popular culture into his songs, and with the way he comes at us from a new musical direction, he does what Coyote enjoys doing: he stirs the pot, he challenges both himself and us, and he approaches the whole scenario with a wicked sense of humour. He brings us to a place where the songs are catchy and fun, but where the waters run deep – there is a lot going on, which makes listening to The Lemon Squeeze quite addictive.
He bursts out of the gates with the first song, “I Love You…So?” – the hard-driving piano emulates a fast-beating, love-struck heart, the simple rhymes and lyrics tempt you to join right in, and the punctuation in the song title subverts the whole thing with a clever twist on a traditional theme.
Similar tricks are played in all of the songs, some more obvious than others: the profanity-laced “Happy Day,” the ripped-from-the-headlines “Uh-Oh,” the polarizing “The Bride is Dead” (which is, in the end, kind of sweet and sentimental despite being so macabre). And then there are the moments of utter sincerity: the optimism of “Time for a Change,” the universal chorus of sound in “Everybody,” and finally a simply beautiful ode, “Mother.”
It sounds different than previous albums, too–there’s a lounge ballad (“You Again”) as well as a pop anthem reminiscent of “Call Me Maybe” (“Last Song”)–but give it a try: the palette is different, but the artist is as thoughtful and interesting as ever. Maybe even more so.
Here’s a taste of Lemon Squeeze–a bit of boy-band-influenced retro pop, augmented by the dulcet tones of Serena Ryder:
The Lemon Squeeze is available now in the iTunes store
The songs are catchy and fun on The Lemon Squeeze, but the waters run deep. And there may be a trickster afoot.