The legendary status of Stan Rogers has been secured in the years since his unexpected death in 1983. His recorded legacy has brought much joy and pleasure to those such as I who were too young and ignorant to be aware of his songwriting and singing talents during his lifetime. His recordings have been explored dozens of times over the years since, and I doubt if a single listening session hasn’t revealed something new.
I write all the above to frame the context for Archie Fisher’s new album, his first in more than a decade. Archie Fisher is what Stan Rogers might have become had he not succumbed at the peak of his talents on a Kentucky runway.
For the uninitiated, Fisher is a Scottish folk master who has a voice that bears more than a passing resemblance to Rogers’ crisp baritone. The difference is that Fisher’s voice has been mellowed with time, with a warm whiskey quality that makes it more comfortable and lived-in than Rogers’.
The eleven tracks that comprise the core of this recording feature Fisher accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar with occasional mandolin and David Paton’s bass. The resulting sound is spacious and clean, lacking clutter that might otherwise get in the way of Fisher’s sounds.
These are love songs without doubt, love for country, women, sea, time, and horses. They are gentle songs, ones that require some effort on the part of listeners to give themselves over to the sketches Fisher creates. But the reward! Fisher fairly transports one to the Scottish Border country so impressive is his mastery of storytelling through song.
As a significant bonus, and well-worth the inclusion, is a set of eight songs Fisher recorded in the late-70s. These lost recordings- both originals and covers- are more elaborate in presentation with beautiful sweeping strings and flute, but every bit as engaging.
If you have a soft spot for Scottish folk singers, Windward Away should do you well.