Scheduled for release Jan. 17th Portland, Oregon’s Fruition provides a distinctive showcase of 2 LPs with 7 tracks each. Wild Is The Night, & Broken At the Break of Day, (Independent).
What caught my ear: the varied solid sound these proficient musicians display with a masterful touch such as Little Feat (when Shawn Murphy sang with them).
They’re PR says bluegrass, but I don’t hear much here. The vocals, plucking, & arrangements have a bluegrass-type juice but not in the traditional sense.
“Forget About You,” has heavy doses of bass (Jeff Leonard) & a little piano (Kellen Asebroek), with a glimmer of lead guitar by vocalist Jay Cobb Anderson. “Wild As the Night,” is nice, with a more sedate Mimi Naja (lead vocal, mandolin, guitar).
Like the legendary Band, who played with Bob Dylan, members play varied instruments & step up as needed. “Sweet Hereafter,” deflates the momentum with a dry performance but “Raining in the City,” restores the octane. It sounds like a modern-day imitation of the 60’s pop group The Cowsills, & with the steady Tyler Thompson battering beat of The Honeycombs (“Have I The Right”) the band is tight & attractive.
More traditional in spirit is “Manzanita Moonlight,” but this too is laid back with its gentle mandolin strains. Jay Cobb Anderson’s sincere vocals bide well.
What keeps it all interesting is the high-intensity bulbs like “Don’t Give Up On Me.” This at least, has a groove, funky heavy bass, steady beat, vocals with an attitude over a sting of guitar. But this is not bluegrass.
The 2nd LP opens brilliantly however, it too has that same “Have I The Right,” steady Tyler Thompson 1-2 heavy beat. Jay Cobb’s vocals on “Dawn,” are more rural & with the addition of Mimi’s vocal, the band shines. “Where Can I Turn,” hovers over a Grateful Dead type guitar tone & Kellen’s vocal — far better than “Sweet Hereafter.”
I originally liked the 1-2 pound of the “Have I The Right,” beat that started earlier. But with “For You,” this repetitious beat on a 3rd song is wearing thin. Tyler needs other beat structures or eventually become a one-trick pony. This song has “air” in it that a drummer can indeed come up with other rhythms & fills.
More rocking is “Do What You Want.” This has authority despite the 1-2 beat that continues. On this, the processed vocals are attractive with Jay’s lead guitar & Mimi’s “stunt guitar.” The harmonies are good, the song collection is distinguished.
Some rethinking is necessary. Or with time they’ll be just another accomplished roots-Americana band. They need a broader sweep in style with their percussion. More Cobb & Mimi vocals. They need more challenging, absorbing songs. Past accomplished groups – Seatrain, Pure Prairie League, Quicksilver Messenger Service & Dando Shaft – have come & gone.
Fruition should continue to be fruitious.