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The first time they ever made music together, Fruition’s three lead singer-songwriters discovered that their voices naturally blended into stunning three-part harmony. Eight years after that impromptu busking session, the quintet, based in Portland, Oregon, has grown from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock band with an easy but powerful grasp of soul, blues, and British Invasion–era pop. On its new album, Labor of Love, Fruition shows the complete force of the group’s newly expanded and electrified sound, matching its more daring musicality with sophisticated, melody-minded songcraft. With Anderson, Asebroek, and Naja trading vocal duties and offering up their own singular brand of gutsy yet graceful songwriting, Fruition infuses each track on Labor of Love with timeless urgency and three-part harmonies that never fail to enthrall.
As the follow-up to Just One of Them Nights (their 2013 album), Labor of Love came to life over the course of a yearlong process of exploring new sonic terrain that included everything from Phil Spector-esque pop to dreamy psychedelia to Motown-inspired soul. “In the past our approach was always to just get in the studio and get it done, but for this one we decided we were going to take all the time in the world to make the album great,” says Anderson. Teaming up with engineer Justin Phelps (Amanda Palmer, Jolie Holland, Chuck Prophet), Fruition self-produced Labor of Love and mined major inspiration from the inventive precision of longtime Beatles producer George Martin. “This is the first album where we made a point of bringing out the character of each song to the fullest,” says Thompson, who led the mixing of the album. “With our previous albums we tended to treat each song the same, but this time we really went all the way with whatever sound we were going for.”
Touring experience has steadily reshaped the band and ultimately allowed them to achieve a sound they have long aspired toward. “A few of the songs on the new album actually came from years ago, in an era when we were much more of a string band,” says Thompson. “We’d imagined the songs in a particular way but didn’t have the ability or experience to get them where we wanted to be—we didn’t even own the right instruments.” But despite broadening their repertoire, a certain spirited simplicity still forms the heart of Fruition. “We all tend to write on acoustic guitar and let things start in the same stripped-down, folky sort of way that we always did,” says Naja. “So where the songs come from hasn’t really changed much at all. What’s different is where we let them go from there.”
This is Americana of the highest order, driven by charming three-part harmonies that never feel forced.
Fruition have grown into a rock band in recent years, albeit with string proclivities, pop ambitions, and exceptional harmonies.