93 Million Miles, the latest release from LA-based guitarist Scott Fisher, is an album for anyone who wants to kick back, roll a blunt, and vibe.
Unapologetically throwback in its composition and performance, 93 Million Miles continues Fisher's work to bring back 70s space-folk. Despite modern production, this is an album which could have easily been released in 1975 without raising a single eyebrow. This is hardly surprising from a musician whose previous release was Songs Of Jerry Garcia And Others. He wears his influences proudly.
It's impossible to discuss 96 Million Miles without words like "smooth," "relaxed," and "soulful" coming up a lot. Fisher's voice is alternately crooning, blissful, and a bit staccato. At times, he sounds like a nearly perfect blend between Dylan and Garcia, combining Dylan's sometimes unusual vocal rhythms with the quiet yearning of Garcia. It's little wonder that some of the strongest songs on this album are covers from them, especially an excellent laid-back rendition of the Dead's "Sugaree."
There's no doubting Fisher's own musicianship. Almost every instrument on the album is performed by him, including acoustic guitar, fuzz guitars, and Hammond organs. The only exception is the rock-solid drumming, from Enrique Gonzales of Los Lobos, whose grooves help tie the occasionally-rambling compositions together.
Thematically, the album looks to be quietly uplifting, with a focus on holding true to personal ideals. This is expressed clearly in the album's opening track, "The Right Way," which is also its first single. "The right way never goes wrong," it says, encouraging the listener to live their life and find themselves as a Heil Talk Box squawks its way through a bluesy solo.
Title track "93 Million Miles," carries on this theme, asking 'what have we become?' when viewing Earth from above. (The Earth is 93m miles from the Sun.) The track also features some of Fisher's most obscure Dylanesque lyrics, with lines like "A pillow made of stone / faded with the colors of our best intentions" sure to spark late-night stoner debates.
However, don't expect any hot takes from this album. The closest it gets to edgy is in "Victor Or The Vanquished," asking which the listener supports. Fisher wants to comment on the craziness of modern life, but without being too pointed about it. That might harsh your mellow.
If there's a flaw in the album - which some may see as a virtue - it's that the overall vibe and tone is so similar from song to song that they can easily blend together. The feeling is almost like watching and listening to ocean waves, gently moving in and out, with the occasional swell attracting particular attention - such as an excellent Gilmour-esque Talk Box solo backed by vibing pads in "Edgy Rubber," which is also the most fun song on the album.
Overall, 93 Million Miles is going to be happily embraced by anyone who's a fan of the 70s space-folk scene, or Deadheads looking for a new artist with a similar feel. The ultra laid-back approach won't appeal to everyone, but this is definitely one of the most chill albums of the year.