Why must an artist switch off their creativity simply because they grow older? Why is it that the music world only really allows people who were marginally famous when they were younger to continue to make music? It's very rare when you have an older, unknown artist to suddenly appear out of nowhere and receive tons of critical acclaim.
Just because you're older doesn't mean you're less capable. It's an argument that I think about as I grow older; it doesn't go away, especially seeing how the distinction between the teen-pop world and the independent music world grow less and less distinct.
For those of you who don't know, George Usher played in legendary 80s 'college-rock' combos The Bongos and Beat Rodeo. If you're under thirty and you've never heard of either of them, that's okay--they were both rather obscure in their day, though they were quite excellent, and specialized in a rocky, poppy blend of that stuff we called "college rock." (Methinks you should do some record-store scrounging for Beat Rodeo's two albums, and The Bongos' retrospective on Razor & Tie is a fine purchase, too). Anyway, Usher's got a fine history of great records, and Fire Garden is a fine affair.
With the lovely "Are You Coming or Going," Fire Garden starts off with jingle-jangle, and it never stops. Usher sings with a coy croon, and his songs of experience sound positively innocent, free of any ulterior motive, other than that of sharing his feelings. He's sharing his wisdom through song, you know. Songs of love, life, heartbreak and confusion--it's all a part of a winning combination. Though Usher and company never stray too far from his formula, his songs are consistently charming, and numbers like "There Is No Sleep" and "Nowhere" rise to the top.
Fire Garden is a steady album of fine, sunny-day pop-rock. George Usher may not win any Teen Choice awards or Indie Hipster Credibility awards, and that's fine. In fact, it's even great. Who likes listening to music that's caught up in its image? Substance is the new style, and in that way, George Usher is an innovator. Fire Garden is about nothing more than the songs, and in this day and age of indie-image, such simple virtue is to be praised.