Sounds Like: A world traveler's perspective on American folk-rock and classic pop, recorded halfway across the globe.
For Fans of: The Beatles' solo projects from the 1970s, Josh Rouse, Neil Young
Why You Should Pay Attention: Before moving overseas in 2008, Ian Fisher grew up in Missouri, raised on the soulful sounds of his father's 1970s record collection and the punchy twang of Nineties country. Although he made several trips to Nashville with childhood friend and songwriting buddy Chris Janson, it was a relocation to Vienna that served as the launching pad for Fisher's songwriting career. He's been living in Europe ever since, rolling the best parts of American music – including Fleetwood Mac's harmonies, Jason Isbell's charged Americana and the subdued, rainy-day vibe of his Seventies favorites – into Idle Hands, an upcoming album that's politically conscious and globally minded. "The more I felt that I was losing my national identity," he says of his early days as an expat, "the more I was able to enjoy country music again. I was able to separate the genre from the political and social ideas that attached themselves to it. I realized that country music didn't need a country to exist."
He Says: "I like to blur the lines between what is personal and what is social in my lyrics," says Fisher, who recorded Idle Hands in a small East Berlin studio surrounded by Soviet apartment blocs. "In the song 'Road to Jordan,' for example, I mix the themes of the healing power of empathy in the wake of the death of a friend with the backdrop of the 2015 refugee crisis in Europe. Why write about just one thing when it's all connected, anyway?"
Hear for Yourself: One of the most Americana-leaning songs on a wildly diverse album, "Road to Jordan" roots itself in pedal steel guitars and Levon Helm-worthy grooves. R.C.