There’s something positive to be said for albums and song collections throwing any sense of maturity overboard and simply revelling in pure merriment or escapism. Everyone needs those moments. The new album by Kevin Fisher, Beer Me, provides a plethora of such moments for interested listeners. Fisher, a longtime songwriting success who has worked with acts as diverse as Sara Evans and Uncle Kracker, ventures forth on his own with a twelve-song collection united by the concept of extolling beer’s virtues.
Some people are going to hear this as a one joke novelty effort reading that description, but don’t dismiss it so quickly. The lyrics certainly asking what goes into a man’s soul, but the subject matter is definitely carried by a first notch musical performer from Kevin Fisher and his collaborators. This album, flatly stated, rocks and never forgets its audience. His ability to sustain your interest over a dozen songs riffing on the same joke is no small feat and testifies to the imagination that went into writing and recording this album.
The brash and brisk guitar driven pace of the opener “Beer” kicks things off on an auspicious note. Fisher’s dry delivery has an oddly complementary effect with the fleet-footed yet muscular backing thanks to its contrast and the warm sheen surrounding the instrumentation helps the musical performance stand out even more. The jokes keep on a-comin’ with the album’s title song and second track “Beer Me”. Despite a notable difference in the sound and approach, Fisher’s songwriting might remind some of a bluer collar Jimmy Buffett and he certainly relates to a mass audience with little effort to exert his appeal. It just comes naturally.
One of the wittier moments on the album comes with the song “Dog Beers” and it’s illustrative of a subtle undercurrent on the release. The comedic element present in some blues songs, for instance, is often discussed as the performer “laughing to keep from crying” and there’s a faint underpinning of regret and pain. “Dog Beers” employs a little of that, but never so much that it dampens the comedic parts so crucial to the song’s success.
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The light tropical feel of “I Wish You Were Beer” mingles some equally artful Tex-Mex influences into the stew and will certainly strengthen any comparisons with Jimmy Buffet’s style. Some of that aforementioned quality of regret weaves its way into the lyrical content, but it never gets things too heavy. “To Beer or Not to Beer” keeps the music’s bluesy influence percolating from the start and the added spice of an acoustic slide guitar occasionally counterpointing it’s growling electric counterpart. The acoustic takes off on a particularly effective brief solo during the song’s second half. The lyrics in the song’s bridge are especially funny and eminently relatable.
The rough-hewn stomp of the song “Beerly Beloved” seems tailor-made for live performances and it isn’t difficult to imagine Fisher getting thousands to sing along with the song’s basketful of payoff lines. The ballad “Beer Blue Sky” is definitely going to be an unexpected twist for many as Fisher renders an astonishingly tender ballad centered on beer, but with a near minimum of jokes when compared to the surrounding tunes. ‘Beer Me’ is a rare accomplishment in some ways – a gimmick album that rates as a musically substantive effort with some surprising depths along the way. Kevin Fisher’s first release is a resounding success.