Jeremy Fisher has had embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford on his mind lately.
In fact, he's been thinking about a whole range of controversial political figures as he's been working on his new album.
"I'm very fascinated by all the allegations of corruption that seem to be popping up," Fisher says from his home in Ottawa, his new puppy barking in the background. "Whether it's the mayor of Toronto (who was allegedly filmed smoking crack) or the last two mayors of Montreal or even organizations like the NSA (National Security Agency). What fascinates me is I buy the story hook, line and sinker. I want to know the truth. I think we all do... The more you look back at things that pop up in the news you realize often the truth never really comes out. The reason for that is what is the truth? What are we looking for? We're looking for an accurate recounting of events, but we're never going to get that."
These are the ideas that have been informing the lyrics for his upcoming album, the follow-up to 2012's Mint Juleps. He's all but done the writing, much of which has taken place in his Ottawa living room where he's been spending more time after 10 years of touring relentlessly. He's been trying to build a home life (which has led, in part, to his spike in news consumption) by touring in short spurts rather than for months on end.
"I'm more productive," he says. "I just felt disconnected from any kind of community or home life, and I mean it's not to say I don't have a lot of friends out there, but now I live in Ottawa in a neighbourhood where I have a routine. I take my dog for a walk to the same coffee shop where I talk to the same people."
He still has shows scheduled this summer, including a stop in Whistler as part of the Whistler Presents free outdoor concert series on Canada Day. He's coming all the way to B.C. for the show then heading into the studio two weeks later with producer Gus Van Go (The Stills, Hollerado, Priestess).
Fisher was reluctant to reveal too much about the upcoming release because, in the past, his records have sometimes changed during recording. He will say, though, that after five albums he was drawn to a new instrument to help push his singer-songwriter, indie-folk sound in a new direction.
"I'm writing on the piano this time," he says. "I really do find that the way the piano resonates with the broad range (of sound) inspired me to do things differently... I wanted to challenge myself to do something different. Some things always stay the same. My worldview doesn't change too much, even though my inspiration changes. I want to try and take the music in a slightly different direction."
Fisher promises he'll play at least one new track at his upcoming Whistler show before heading into the studio two weeks later. So, will we hear a ballad for Rob Ford? "Maybe I'll sit down and write that this afternoon," he says, with a laugh. "I can see why Rob Ford is doing what he's doing. There's no benefit to him coming out and saying, 'Here's what happened.' I like to put myself in their shoes. When I do that I discover my imagination."