Robert Fisher, the man behind the Willard Grant Conspiracy, has a deep voice and a talent for dark but sophisticated lyrics. His music is usually categorized as Americana, but it can just as easily slip into baroque chamber pop or noisy rock when the mood strikes. Nearly every review of Fisher’s music begins by comparing the Willard Grant Conspiracy to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. And that’s just about right: If you like Nick Cave, you’ll probably like the Willard Grant Conspiracy.
But the comparison breaks down when you try to imagine Cave singing one of Fisher’s songs. Take “Lost Hours,” in which Fisher sings of a long drive: “There comes a time when less is more/ We passed that place miles ago.” Can you imagine Cave comfortably singing from the point of view of a lonely trucker? Yet you can easily imagine Fisher singing a Cave song. He has already peppered the past two Willard Grant Conspiracy albums with covers by Bob Dylan and Mark Eitzel. Fisher can take the work of these idiosyncratic songwriters, wed them to his own peculiar style, and combine them to make something unexpected.
“Lost Hours,” from last year’s Pilgrim Road album, is set to a beautiful arrangement of horns, strings, and piano. “Let It Roll,” from 2007’s album of the same name, is set to a noisy rock ’n’ roll tune. The next Willard Grant Conspiracy album is apparently going to be a mix of solo and small-band arrangements featuring Dream Syndicate singer Steve Wynn as a special guest. Whatever it is, it will sound like Fisher, and it will probably sound familiar and strange, frightening and beautiful.
WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY: Bar Pink, Saturday, April 25, 10 p.m. 619-564-7194.