Untethered by Willard Grant ConspiracyRelease date: December 7, 2018
Label: Loose Music
The late Robert Fisher gave his listeners a lot of things, but he never revealed who Willard Grant was or is, or even if such a person existed, or what his conspiracy ever consisted of. But one thing we didn’t have to guess was the fact that Willard Grant Conspiracy the band never was one. It was Robert and a revolving collective of musicians among whom some collaborated with him more, some a bit less. Maybe that was the whole conspiracy, after all.
And as far as his music is concerned, there was no conspiracy either, something very evident in Untethered, this posthumous release made of music he recorded just prior to Fisher’s death due to cancer at the beginning of 2017. Fisher’s music was always characterized as Americana, but as somebody who obviously had a broad taste, he never limited himself to musical labels, incorporating any element he thought would fit in and would sound good played by anybody who was joining him at the time.
At the time of these recordings, the revolving cast included viola player and close friend David Michael Curry, who has the most recurring role here, while the cast includes the likes of Steve Wynn and Chris Brokaw. But with Fisher, it was never who was playing on the record, but about his brilliant song craftsmanship, lyrics he accompanied them with, and that sonorous voice, which, once you hear it was impossible to get out your head or miss it for anybody else’s.
The album title is taken from a song Fisher wrote when he found out that he was terminally ill and that feeling of being tied up and restricted in every way, permeates the songs. The opener ‘Hideous Beast’ is something a lot of listeners familiar with WGC might not have expected, but presents Fisher as a man of wide taste, and probably the anger and rage somebody might feel when they are aware that the dreaded final restriction is around the corner. Hideous beast indeed.
From there on, through songs like ‘Turns’, ‘Chasing Rabbits’ ‘Let You Storm Be Your Pilot’ and on until ‘Untethered’ and ‘Trails End’ you have this seamless flow of songs, themselves that seamless flow of melancholy that was always present in Fisher’s music, at no point indication that you are listening to recordings from tapes that remained on a shelf for a couple of years.
After the trail ends, and the last song closes, in a way as the album opened, you are left with a feeling that like Leonard Cohen’s or David Bowie’s last epitaphs, Untethered leaves you with this enormous feeling of beauty, melancholy and ultimately loss.