It’s always impressive when a musician is able to match melody and landscape. Records influenced by geography have the power to transport us from our current context into a new world. And that’s precisely what Zack Fletcher’s newest album, Ohio Reveries, aims to do. With glittering arrangements and vulnerable lyrics, Fletcher brings the flora and fauna of Ohio to a wider audience.
Fletcher is no lightweight when it comes to crafting gorgeous guitar music. His 2020 instrumental guitar collection Vignettes and 2019 folk masterpiece Moths in the Attic received praise from numerous indie publications, calling his music “captivating,” “beautifully crafted,” and “pristinely executed.” Listeners will soon learn that those same descriptions apply to Fletcher’s newest collection as well.
Opener “The Traveler” introduces a central element of this record: beauty. With its ambient backgrounds, finger-picked acoustic, and uplifting string sections, Fletcher sets to music the grandeur of America’s heartland. In his plaintive, clear voice, Fletcher sings, “So show me, friend, where life begins and daydreams end.” It’s a line that, to me, reflects a desire for reconnection with the natural world.
Moving right along, the reflective “No Moon” gives us a taste of Fletcher’s vocal range and penchant for pop melodies. With an earnest falsetto, Fletcher recalls the events of “this night with no moon” on top of a chilling chord progression and stirring strings. “Compass Rose” is a stand-in rocker on this quiet record, with its trotting snare drum and big electric guitar chords.
On “Banks of Lethe,” Fletcher shows his ability to write haunting lyrics. With the repeated refrain of “you’re drowning me to sleep,” the song seems to contain metaphors for death but never telling the whole truth. And finally, “Ignis Fatuus” is a soul-stirring ballad. Only Fletcher can deliver a line like “there is no future, no future I can see” with the necessary conviction.
Complete with reflections on life, geography, and despair, Ohio Reveries is a modern folk magnum-opus. Fletcher’s unique voice, both musical and lyrical, allow us to enter the caverns of the Midwest with ease. If you’re trying to find some songs for the impending dark summer nights, look no further than this new collection from Zack Fletcher!
Listen to the album and read on for an exclusive interview with the artist!
Featured image by Jace Fleischmann.
Did you have the idea of writing songs about the heartland before making the record, or did you stumble into the theme afterwards? I suppose this is a chicken-egg question.
Appreciate the opportunity to talk about my new collection! ‘Ohio Reveries’ is a name I’ve been thinking about for a while. These songs in particular felt like the clearest representation of that idea. Some of them have been developing over the better part of a decade, while the newest was written just before the recording sessions. These aren’t necessarily songs about Ohio, but ones filtered through the lens of someone who has grown up and has his roots there. That’s what ties the collection together; every experience these songs draw from is an extension of those roots.
What’s it like to be a musician from America’s Midwest? How do you feel it has shaped your songwriting perspective?
There’s a really great community of musicians around my Ohio home. There’s a demand for music and entertainment, and a general appreciation for the arts. Lots of folks make a living out of playing the local circuit, but we’re also positioned so larger markets like Chicago and Nashville aren’t too far of a hike. It’s been great developing friendships and inspiring to watch the eclectic talent in my own back yard. I’m also inspired by the landscapes and seasonal shifts here. I’m sure all of these things filter into my writing. Many of the natural elements definitely influenced the artwork and aesthetic for this project.
What was it like recording and arranging strings for these songs?
All credit goes to Michael Estok at Court Street Recording who produced these songs. I came to him with pretty bare-bones guitar and vocal versions. We worked together to build the first layer of atmosphere in the tracks, and I knew I wanted to include strings as well. He ran with it and made these beautiful arrangements. Michael’s an amazing multi-instrumentalist and did all the cello parts (along with many of the other auxiliary instruments). He brought in another multi-instrumentalist, Rajma McKenzie, for the violin parts. They brought a new level to the emotional and cinematic qualities of these songs. I loved how the strings turned out so much that I had Michael do stripped guitar/string mixes, which were released with the full collection.
You’re a pretty prolific writer. How do you stay inspired?
Music is a therapeutic experience for me, as I know it is for many. I like to play guitar alone almost as a form of meditation. New ideas arise from that often and some of those ideas become complete songs. For me, it’s about being reflective, listening to what the music is calling for, and processing whatever is within me that needs to be expressed.
Do you plan to play these songs live? Where can we find you in the coming months!
For sure! I’ve been playing them out since the release show in my hometown in April. It’s fun to translate them as a solo act or with different ensembles. I’ll be playing all over Ohio this summer as well as L.A. in May, and Nashville, Buffalo, and Toronto in June. Whether solo or with my collective, Moths in the Attic, I’ll be showcasing the ‘Ohio Reveries’ material and more. Upcoming dates are up on zackfletchermusic.com and I’ll post about them on all my socials too. Hope to see you down the line!