”I ain’t got no problem just being where I’m at. Well, I guess I could be somewhere else but I don’t care about that.”
“Git Along,” the opening cut from Just One Of Them Nights (released July 30), the damn fine new album from Portland-based Fruition, is akin to hearing “Wagon Wheel” or “The Weight” for the first time – by the chorus you feel some of the heaviness of the Human Condition lifted as one realizes they’ve gained another tool for getting through the bumps and bad turns on life’s road. In fact, the road – literal and metaphorical – figures prominently on Just One Of Them Nights. These are gypsy musician gunslingers, pure highway denizens missing home but never quite at home with a fixed address, a wedding ring, or days spent without a fresh horizon looming through the windshield.
An appealing sense of adventure, including its dangers to heart and limb, infuses Fruition’s music. It comes through loud and clear in their live presence, too, which the Impound saw on exceedingly charming display at this year’s High Sierra Music Festival where the band knocked out folks both in their own sets and their many enthusiastic, attention grabbing sit-ins.
Talent and charisma aren’t things this quintet lacks. Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica), Kellen Asebroek (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, guitar, piano), Keith Simon (upright & electric bass), and Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo) are about as gifted, confident and eager to please a bunch of players as you’re likely to find in 2013, but what truly separates them from the herd is their terrific songwriting and empathetic interplay. It would be one thing to offer up emotionally rich, widely appealing ditties but the nuances and overlap of their singing and picking gives everything that lil’ extra nudge that tells one they’re witnessing the gestation of a band that’s gonna be absolutely great one day, a real contender in the long term game that understands that building the right foundation makes all the difference.
It’s not a surprise that they’ve already engendered a fierce following that exceeded the Kickstarter goal that got Just One Of Them Nights made. When one feels close to artists that are a blast to take in AND have some ontological heft too, well, it’s natural to want to fuel them if one really cares about music. This album works from beginning to end, offering real diversity but a DJ-esque sense of build and flow in the sequencing and arrangements, one minute sounding like a new millennial answer to Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks (“Mountain Annie”) and the next rockin’ lustily like Fairport Convention’s youthful U.S. cousins (“Blue Light”).
There’s a lot of forebears one might point to while listening to Just One Of Them Nights but the one that resounds most powerfully for DI is Goose Creek Symphony, where there’s just the right amount twang, unabashed rock ‘n’ rollin’ and mountain lilt blended for something distinctly American in the rootsiest, best sense. Whether offering a ragtime dappled salute to their home base (“Portland Bound”), conjuring “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” Merle Haggard (title track) or raising goosebumps with their close harmonies (“Come On, Get In” – someone needs to hip these kids to Lambert, Hendricks & Ross if they aren’t already in the know just to see what a more pronounced jazz influence does to their already meaty stew), Fruition’s latest effort and the band in a broader sense are on the rise. Consider yourselves served notice to wade in now before it gets a lot harder to ride the rail with this kindred spirit to fellow comers Elephant Revival, Dead Winter Carpenters, and The Felice Brothers.
Fruition are currently opening for DI Super Faves Greensky Bluegrass, playing tomorrow night, November 8, at The Fillmore in San Francisco before heading to Los Angeles (11/9), Solano Beach (11/10), Flagstaff, AZ (11/12) and then up to Utah, and Colorado. Check out their full tour schedule HERE.