Listen Up: Wednesday, January 24, 2007
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Willard Grant Conspiracy

Let It Roll (Dahlia Records)

By Tom Geddie

An ambitious, musically sophisticated album that should be played loud to catch all of the nuances, Willard Grant Conspiracy’s Let It Roll could be labeled orchestral rock. Together, the 10 songs on this moody, mostly molasses-moving c.d. run just over an hour while seldom missing a note or adding too many.

Willard Grant Conspiracy is more of a co-op than a band, with singer-songwriter-guitarist Robert Fisher as the only constant member. Here, a core group of musicians performed the guitar, violin, viola, drum, piano, and electric and double bass parts. Guests joined in with trumpet, accordion, mandolin, organ, synthesizer, even a subtle bit of saw, and enough background vocals to sometimes constitute a small choir.

Over the course of 11 c.d.’s, Fisher has evolved from his original Boston folk roots to California alt-country to this hybrid concoction.

Fisher’s often rough-voiced vocals wrap around songs that range from the story of a soldier about to face his first battle to the purposely disturbing rocker of a title song in which “wild flowers still bloom red poppies like tears beneath a cold dead moon.” On “Flying Low,” Fisher examines a cluttered life: “I dreamed I saw the angels flying low, they encompass all that’s good, so I’m told / ... By day I learn to sift through the wreckage, scavenger without shame or fear.”

The c.d. is all original except for an interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man,” which includes the line “There’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?” There’s something happening on Let It Roll too, and if we don’t always know exactly what it is, at least we know that it’s an honest effort to make meaningful music.


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