Saturday, January 11, 2014
Jim Fidler - RPM
Jim Fidler's latest album, RPM, is a definite departure from his work with Pressure Drop, his collaborative efforts with other musicians and his solo catalogue.
It took the St. John's, Nfld. artist exactly eight months to make the 11-song, 54-minute album at his Roots Cellar studio. As in the past, he wrote, played and sang almost everything, while also producing the record. What's different, though, is the sound.
Fidler first became known as a reggae artist through Pressure Drop, embraced Celtic music in his early solo work, added sounds from other cultures to make what can loosely be described as world music, and has also mixed in pop, blues and folk to those elements to create a unique niche for himself. But RPM adds a new wrinkle, with distinct 1970s pop and rock influences.
Some of opener "Mister Man" sounds like it could have been included on Pink Floyd's The Wall, the piano introduction to "What I'm Going to Do" is reminiscent of Supertramp's "Bloody Well Right" and "Not the Thing at the End of the Line" also elicits vague memories of the decade of Watergate, oil crises and Archie Bunker.
"Mama's Little Boy" and "Dancing at the Rubber Ball" are more rhythmic, the fairly mellow "The Weed" sings the praises of marijuana and "We Need A Revolution" cites the importance of open communication. The album ends relatively quietly with the trio of "The Final Curtain Call," "Sleep" and "Dream (The Awakening)."
The other thing that sets RPM apart from Fidler's earlier work is that the lyrics came to him in a stream of consciousness after he laid down the bed for each track. There was no sitting down and jotting notes to guide him along. The result is what can be described as a concept album, as it traces the life and career of a fictitious musician named Mickey Finn.
Fidler may call for a revolution, but RPM also illustrates his continuing musical evolution.