Jeremy Fisher

It's kind of bad-ass, if you think about it, to sound like Paul Simon. The pop world is full of Beatles and Stones imitators, after all. Not so much Mr. Simon. Yet it's obvious, from the opening refrains of this inspired sophomore effort, that Fisher spent his youth listening to songs like "Cecilia." His voice has the same velvety sheen as Simon's, and his song lines offer the same irrepressible marriage of folk and pop.

"Sula," with its sweet harmonies and syncopated handclaps, could have been lifted directly from The Sounds of Silence. Rockers such as "Jolene" and "American Girls" bounce along on bursts of sunny guitar. But before you write off this Canadian troubadour as just so much ear candy, note the slyly subversive lyrics to "Scar That Never Heals," which compares his former paramour to a gunrunner. Like Simon before him, Fischer produces joyous pop without making the listener feel like a dope or a sellout. This guy is gonna be huge. And he's gonna deserve it.

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Steven Almond

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