It’s amazing how random things could lead to the most beautiful discoveries. In this case, random took the shape of a BlackBerry PlayBook. When I bought my beautiful tablet, I began looking for a group that would help me get the most out of the device. One of the groupies became a fast friend as we discovered a mutual love for music. This person shared with me the beauty of an artist named Fish. In my haze of pop and classic rock, I had never come across the Scottish rocker with decades to his repertoire. Since then, I can’t seem to stay away.
The first thing to draw me to Fish’s music was his voice. I’m a bit of a vocalist, raised by a choir director, so the voice has always been the first instrument I notice. Fish has a rich rasp that belies the inherent nature by having a silky texture rather than coarse. His gentleness and sincerity come through in his voice, while the rich soul delivers an earthy appeal.
His literal voice isn’t the only one that spoke to me. Fish has an eternally meaningful writing style that is evident in the elegant wordplay of his lyrics. It has become so much of part of who he is as an artist, that he created a love song directly referencing his “gift of words.” Tuck this song away, I’ll expound on it later:
Furthermore, the poetry of his lyrics evokes the images of his songs’ meanings. “The Great Unraveling” is an excellent example of this. While many artists are similarly creative, Fish is does so without it feeling heavy or forced through his phrasing and earnest delivery. It becomes effortless and almost unintentional which speaks further to his artistry.
In time, no strings attached, so wild and free
No ties to bind, a world before us
We threaded hopes within the tapestries we wove
So far away, the great unraveling
Fish certainly has a unique voice, both literally and artistically. It all began while he sang lead for Marillion, a progressive rock group. Their experimental proclivities allowed Fish to work through his different styles and hone the one that felt like home to him. His search has been fueled by the desire to find the right people to create the right songs to tell the right stories. This is evident in his personal style as well as his work with Marillion. They helped him discover more about his place within musicality – as a storyteller. He became a producer of auditory narratives that allowed for an internally visual experience for the listener. Translation: He tries to bridge the gap between what our ears hear and the images our minds create.
One of my favorite Marillion tunes is “Lavender” as it pulled bits from Joni Mitchell and lyrically reminisces through the folk song “Lavender Blue.” It takes influences from classic rock and layers it with touches of hair metal in the guitars. Couple that with the childlike ditty fused into the chorus and the listener is treated to a provocative and playful anthem. Also…that achingly sweet, yet robust voice…
Deciding to continue his musical journey solo, Fish hoped to have a more creative force in his productions. Again, he wanted to bring the people together that he needed in order to create the music he felt within. He began to not only create music but to write. He would travel and journal, expressing the beauty he saw around him in fine detail.
His first solo album released in 1990 with the title Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors. It showcased Fish vocally and lyrically as the phrases and melodies blended into a story for the mind. The final track on this album is likely my favorite, as it is his take on a love song… we listened to it above. Offering a light dose of chagrin, Fish muses in the song about the overwhelming lack of poetry available when expressing the sincerity of love. The song finishes with the realization that the “Cliché” is the best way as it’s never really about the words: it’s about the emotion fueling them. It’s an endearing tribute to the honesty of lasting affection.
Fish released a new solo album in 2013, A Feast of Consequences. A beautifully sincere and poetic look at life, each song carries some insight to which the listener can relate whether it be heartache, the progression of time, or admitting one’s mistakes. It has a refined weight to its truth.
Fish is still creating music and memories, and building relationships with his loyal fanbase. Although he recently announced his plans to retire from touring, he’s not quite done, yet. He also plans to release one more solo album. And as a lovely way to come full circle, he is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood with his poetically titled “Farewell to Childhood” tour. He will perform the entire album for a few select shows this summer.
April 25 marks Fish’s birthday, and I’d love to wish him a happy one from us at UTBGeek. His music is a truly beautiful gift, deserving of praise. Although he is rounding out the final act in his career, I’m glad that we have such a rich history to relive in his sound.