Conrad Fisher – Trouble With A Hammer – EP
Produced by music industry vet Matt Lindsey & Jeff Gordon this 7-track EP Trouble With A Hammer (Drops May 12- Ashbrook Recordings) was recorded in Nashville by Pennsylvania singer-songwriter/carpenter Conrad Fisher.
With his tenor in gear & twangy guitar approach shaving along the grain Conrad draws upon influences as diverse as country greats Don Williams & Buck Owens with a touch of Tom Petty pop qualities. There are many natural originals along with some reliable covers.
Despite the twang & vintage approach, Fisher’s showcase is modern in approach. Nothing comes across as corny or too C&W. What he replicates is the genuine feeling of another era & why it was such a dominant feature in the 50s & 60s.
With “I’ve Got You,” the sparkling melodic line & sticky sweet pop aesthetic has no sludge – it’s all honey. Fisher could build an entire career on this type of song. With the ballad “Old Lonesome Feeling,” Fisher sings with a purity that’s inspired. Lyrically, Conrad manages to stay away from cliches & maintains a confident sound though it’s a spare sound.
The two opening tunes “Trouble With a Hammer,” & Tom Petty’s “Walls,” both have substantial country cred – energetic & strong vocally — while they cruise closely to pop country. Conrad manages to provide through his singing a spirited performance with all the authenticity a singer can muster. There isn’t that heavy Randy Travis twang, but he has a tradition that skates the resilient styles of George Strait & expressive worthiness of George Jones. The kid has taste. I understand the eagerness the producers had in working with Conrad in the studio.
The songs are good. What’s needed is to shape a vital penetrating showcase. Think John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle & Lyle Lovett — all with a distinctive methodology to their music. Conrad Fisher has the voice, the melody construct & prowess. But these 7 songs though well-written are just entertaining tunes. He needs to develop a persona. Each artist above has a signature stagecraft. Conrad needs one too.
We know what a Prine, Lightfoot, or Van Zandt-style song is, even when they’re not singing it. I hope to hear more from Conrad. I like his voice – he has an identity & he has a pristine recording with the EP “Trouble With a Hammer.” All listenable. Satisfying. It’s well-nurtured songs, little songs. He needs a more textural continuity that’s all – an area of country music that isn’t being mined by others.
Highlights – “Trouble With a Hammer,” “Walls,” “I’ve Got You,” “Old Lonesome Feeling” & “Better Now.”
Musicians – Conrad (vocals/guitars/keyboards/harmonica/percussion/kazoo), Fred Eltringham (drums/percussion), Russ Pahl (steel guitars/electric guitar), Pete Wasner (piano/Hammond organ/Wurlitzer), Gideon Klein (bass/fiddle) & Beth Fisher (vocals).
Color & B&W image courtesy of Alan Messer. CD @ Apple Music & Amazon + http://conradfishermusic.com/