A review of Fruit’s Burn

The style is, at times, reminiscent of kd lang’s, with its deep moody smoothness and wide range, especially on the torchier songs like “Burn“ or “Jennifer Says.” The voices move up and down the chromatic scale, toughening down low into the hard syllables of the words, or soaring at the end of a line.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Fruit
Burn
Fruit Music Pty Ltd
AU$29.95, April 2005

In the past, independent artists had to struggle against the huge budgets and promotional power of the big conglomerate record labels. Producing a record or CD was expensive, and without money to promote the work, getting noticed by the buying public was an uphill battle. While large labels can still spend a lion’s share of money on promotion, their focus on revenue generation and the need for a guaranteed return on investment can often cloud over the basic goal of creative expression behind music. This may end up in a more formulaic, predicatable sound than that found with independents, who don’t have to recoup a huge investment and are therefore free to reach out musically, creating new sounds, and taking chances. In addition, independent labels are often able to move much quicker from conception to commercialised CD. This is particularly true in Australia, where the most exciting music, from The Waifs to the John Butler Trio have come from self-produced CDs. The artists retain complete artistic control, and can use the Internet to distribute their music cheaply, on a worldwide basis.

Fruit’s sound fits perfectly into the Indie scene, as their music breaks down genre distinctions. It’s a little bit torchy, a bit hard rock, a bit pop, a bit bluesy, a bit of jazz, and a bit of folk. There’s even a hint of gospel on songs like “all this time.”

Burn comes on strong, opening their fourth studio produced CD with the powerful, catchy pop sound of the single “A Thousand Days.” There’s no hesitation or self-consciousness in the sound. The harmonies are so tight that it’s hard to separate the voices into their components while they’re working together. However, the team is nothing if not democratic, and the songs change in style and execution as they alternate composer, giving the CD a varied sound. There are broody love songs, songs about empowerment, songs about finding inner calm, and songs about making the world a better place. The trio aren’t afraid to shout, cry, bellow, use their voices like instruments and the wide range of instruments like voices on this sumptuous CD. Although the sound is distinctive enough to call it original, it’s hard not to draw comparisons. The style is, at times, reminiscent of kd lang’s, with its deep moody smoothness and wide range, especially on the torchier songs like “Burn“ or “Jennifer Says.” The voices move up and down the chromatic scale, toughening down low into the hard syllables of the words, or soaring at the end of a line. The sumptuous backing music blends in perfectly, as on “If only for the Sun,” which has the most delicate string accompaniment to enhance the cry of pain which is thematic undertone of the song.

The CD is enhanced by the Philadelphia Studio Strings which includes violin, cello, and viola, blending, like the voices, with hard hitting horns, congas, mandolin, and keyboards and creating a very tight montage of meaningful music. It is this harmonic coordination, not only between voices, but between voices and instruments, which sets this group apart.

Their conviction is obvious, both in the words, which talk of self-actualisation, of surviving romantic pain, of changing life and working together, and in the sound, which is alternatively searching, desperate, or positive. The sound is often intimate, inviting the listener in gently, at an almost lullaby pace, as in “peace:”

where the salt meets the sand and the drifting tide lands
where its soft in the stretch of your hand
where the time passes slow and the rosellas know that it’s warm in the glow of the land
where the wide open space gives so much t the place
and the breath in me reaches right in

But it would be a mistake to see Fruit as an easy listening band. Their music pulls no punches, and gets to the point of facing demons and working through pain towards epiphany:

and i’m hiding inside
i’m hiding from you
i need to step back and see
what I need to do
we’re running out of life
we’re running out of steam
‘cos time is not living no
it’s what happens in between

The songs may start off soft, but often grow in scale to a sonic boom of music and voices, adding up to more than the sum of its parts. Confident, strong, innovative, but still quite beautiful and accessible, this is a CD which will get plenty of airplay. For more information about Fruit, including Burn music samples, visit: www.fruitmusic.com.au

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