I first learned of the band Fisher about eight years ago when I heard the song “Beautiful Life” on a Toyota commercial. I didn’t know what the song was called, or who the band was, but I knew I had to find out. It took me awhile, researching on the Internet to find who wrote this little catchy tune, but I finally, finally tracked it down on iTunes. Thank you Lord, because Fisher has become one of my all-time favorite bands that you have probably never heard of.
First off, Kath Fisher is one stunningly beautiful chick. That certainly helps with the marketing, of course (she’s on pretty much every cover); however, no matter what she looks like, it’s all about the voice. That voice. Someone once described her voice as “a hot rock wrapped in velvet” and when you listen to her (and you will), you will agree. Fisher’s voice is fan-tast-ic: strong, ethereal, great range — a true instrument. God was kind.
Then, there are the gorgeous songs and amazingly thoughtful lyrics, written by Fisher and her husband/bandmate/producer, Ron Wasserman. Wasserman has worked in L.A. as a commercial music producer for years, so it isn’t surprising that their music has been used in this way. The man knows how to write a catchy tune, that’s for sure.
You may be familiar with Fisher from this: in late 2008, the TLC network started using “Beautiful Life” (from The Lovely Years album) for their Monday night programming (including that Jon & Kate show). Though this has garnered them a much wider audience, the band has stayed fiercely independent and has never signed to a major label.
A brief summary of their fabulous music: their first album, One was released in 1999 and contained the hits “I Will love You” (which had people pulling over their cars and calling radio stations to find out who was singing.) and “Never Say Never.” Most of their popularity, however, came from the advent of downloaded music — they were one of the most popular downloaded artists in 1999.
Their next album, North, contained a few of the songs already contained on One plus a whole album of new tracks. In 2002, Fisher released a twenty-three track opus, Uppers and Downers (check out the cover of “Dream On”) which is exactly what it sounds like: half of the songs on the album are slower-paced ballads, the other half are upbeat rockers. 2005 brought the standout The Lovely Years which covered Fisher and Wasserman’s experiences as new parents and their continued life as a couple. After that album, they decided to hang it up for awhile due to major personal difficulties; we fans had to face the hard fact that this could possibly be the end to our beloved band.
Luckily, Fisher recently released a hauntingly beautiful new album this past year called Water which covers the last incredibly difficult two years in their lives; this includes Kathy renewing her faith and getting baptized for a second time; the devastatingly sudden death of her father; and the illness and death of Ron’s mother.
Here is a breakdown of each song from Water, with some insights into their motivation for each song (taken from liner notes, interviews, their recent iTunes pod cast, and various other sources):
“Breathe” is about a kind of baptism, starting over, when you stop letting pride get in the way. Ron felt it had a sort of a revival vibe to it, musically. Wasserman started writing the music and Kathy finished it. A beautiful song with lovely lyrics. Quite catchy, this one will get stuck in your head. Great piano work.
“Hollywood” is a kiss-off song to the big-time music industry, a celebration of getting away from that type of life that they never really wanted anyway. They have almost been signed with big record companies several times and it’s just never worked out — and after their most recent meetings Kathy said they felt like taking a hot shower. “With open eyes, we never compromise.”
“Love is on the Way” Kathy says she was inspired by working with recovering addicts. The lyrics shows the strength each of us has, no matter what it is we are trying to overcome; whether you are an addict or not, I think we can all relate…food, TV, computer…aren’t we all trying to quit something?
“Victims of the Sky” Boom, the sky just came crashing down. A beautiful June day at the park and Kathy gets the call ("out of the blue") from her sister that her father has died. He had been killed in an accident, while towing his boat out of a river and was assumed to have drowned. The message of this song is that no matter what your beliefs, you have no control of something like that. Truly a gorgeous, haunting song. My favorite on the album, along with the next song…
“Water Burial” is the most difficult song Ron says he ever had to write. It ends up that her father didn’t drown after all — he actually suffered a massive heart attack in his truck and died as he released the brake — which caused his truck and boat to float backward into the water and submerge completely under twenty feet of water. Kathy said it was very hard for her to sing this song — she would ask Ron “what are you trying to do, kill me?” each time she attempted to record it. Their young son Aaron actually wrote the second verse. This song will, I guarantee, bring a tear to your eye; particularly when you’ve learned the story behind it. So amazing. If you’ve lost anyone close to you, this song digs deep.
“I Wrote This Song” This is the song Ron wrote as a thank you to whoever or whatever (for Kathy it’s Jesus) brought Kathy back from the brink of depression and suicide after her father’s sudden death; and he wanted to write a song of thanks.
“Anything for You” A song dedicated to their happy, goofy son, Aaron, their saving grace, through all their recent tough times.
“Wonderful World” Cute, too cute for Kathy (Ron wrote it) she says, and she thinks he wrote it for perhaps a car commercial and maybe they can “pay their mortgage for awhile if it gets licensed.” Love her honesty. He says he wrote it on a happy, good day and wanted to capture that great, carefree, and rare moment in their lives.
“Rain” Kathy’s lyrics, Ron’s music, The lyrics reflect us messing with the planet and how we have to pay it back now. Build your ark. Still carries that same theme of God. Really showcases Kathy’s voice.
“I’ll be Okay” Based on a huge falling out Kathy had with a close friend. A declaration of independence from those crazy people in our lives. “May your meds kick in for you and show you the way; cuz I‘ll be okay” Great lyrics, funny song. We’ve ALL been there.
“Words” Memories of your childhood with siblings and how that changes when you become adults. Conflicts, walking on eggshells, life experiences that changes them and how you don’t even them know them anymore. If you have adult siblings, this song will resonate with you. So painful for her to sing this song as well. Sad and honest; a gorgeous song musically and lyrically.
“Revival” Renewing ourselves, being naked to the world in a sense. Kathy said it reflected peace within the storm — ”When is this gonna end?” Kathy kept asking Ron during their difficult two years. “And I am revived…and I live again…” A very cool song with a cool base line.
Kathy said this CD felt like a therapy session and was different for her because it was one where she just (mostly) went in and sang; and with most of the songs written entirely by Ron (for the first time), this album was truly a new and unique experience for them both. Kathy decided to title it Water because it seemed appropriate for her baptism, how her father died, and ultimately, renewal.
One warning: I’m not a particularly religious person and Fisher is not a Christian band. While this album does touch on religious topics, I personally feel that it’s just part of the journey they are sharing with us and it’s presented in a beautiful, relatable way. However, if that’s not your thing, this may not be the record for you. Perhaps listen to past works that don't have as much of a religious theme.
For those of us that are fans, we can enjoy this new work and share it with the world. Discover Fisher for yourself and tell all your friends. We can only hope they continue to make such amazing music together for us to enjoy in future years. Meanwhile, we have lots of wonderful music to listen to and enjoy now.