Gran Bel Fisher

Full Moon Cigarette

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The stark black-and-white packaging of young Gran Bel Fisher's debut is somewhat misleading, since this singer/songwriter creates colorful, widescreen music aiming for arenas in its layered and dramatic approach. Fisher's descriptive songs match his husky, room-filling vocals, even when the music is stripped down to piano and voice, which isn't all that often. Credit producer/guitarist/co-songwriter Dave Bassett for framing these sweeping, predominantly piano-driven midtempo rockers and ballads to get the most bang out of lyrics that shift from personal to more worldly concerns, sometimes in the same tune. With imposing musical ambitions and a sound somewhat similar to Snow Patrol, the Fisher-Bassett collaboration yields serious, melodic set pieces that linger after the album ends. This is less insular than most emo, but falls vaguely under that umbrella. Fisher's voice soars as the tunes reach for the back rows and generally succeed. A little of this goes a long way, though, and by the time the end of this album rolls around and the singer is doing his best Jim Morrison meets U2 on "Baby Boy," the effect is exhausting. These affecting tracks resonate most successfully taken in small doses, but they do resonate. The songwriters have a knack for creating mini-suites that seem ready-made for post-teen females looking for a sensitive guy to hold their hands and guide the way. There's nothing wrong with that, and Fisher seems more than willing to comply with an impressive -- if not terribly unique -- set of material. With the correct marketing, his handsome face is ready to adorn sorority bedroom walls.

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