Life, Love, and Lessons: The Beautiful Ballads of How to Make Mistakes

Article Contributed by Dan Ward | Published on Monday, July 8, 2024

Folk Blues Bands are hard to place. Acoustic guitars backed by sensitive rhythm players hold the framework together. A voice like an old friend starts to weave a tale you feel could be your own when the steel guitar cuts into your mind, sending you to a happy place where the world makes sense. Veteran performers Fruition, made up of Portland Oregon's Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica), Kellen Asebroek (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano), Jeff Leonard (bass), Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo), and Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, electric & acoustic guitar). The long-awaited How to Make Mistakes is a collection of songs that transport us on a journey. The entire album is like a great night at your favorite watering hole or a trusted companion for a road trip. The songs range from soulful ballads to up-tempo folk fare and even one with a Polynesian flavor.

The songs are arranged like a live performance. We start off with the solid blues-driven ballad Lonely Work, hitting home with life-affirming self-reflection. The road twists to the first up-tempo personal observation Scars. How much can the human psyche take alone? What drives us onward? Questions posed without conclusion allow us to ponder. Now we transition perfectly to the easy-going Saturday Night. The band used Saturday Night as an album teaser a few weeks ago to a warm response. The song will get you singing along and swaying with the beat as we explore the Saturday nights of the past and wonder what awaits in the future.

Transitioning to the middle of our travels, the song's tempo and temperament work back and forth like a switchback trail. The happy ballad Get Lost takes us away from the frantic congestion of the city into the solitude and tranquility afforded to those who travel into the peaceful forest. Can You Tell Me brings us back with thoughts of realism. Looking for answers from the bottom up, how do we elicit answers for the impoundable questions in life?

Playful and smiling Never Change gives us a hopeful glimpse at mature childhood. We are all connected to the storyteller, and he is bringing us together with thoughts of home, family, and the paths we all travel together. Now slowing the pace, Still brings a needed introspective moment to the scene, still in keeping with the overall feel of the set. The Price of Sound Advice asks rhetorical questions and gives tacit advice. We get older and reason ourselves into financial downfall, but why? The answer is both perplexing and self-evident.

The band gives us a scenic pull-off with the gospel-like One by One. Sad and poignant, the subject matter is dark, relevant, and timely. We are left feeling better by the segue, exactly as folk and blues music is intended, resolution from shared tragic events. Toes tapping and spirits lifted, we are treated to the lovely ballad Made to Break. Mimi Naja's lilting vocals bring us into her personal space while letting us know everything is going to be fine as we approach our destination. Here we are told it is permissible to make mistakes, and we need to learn how to make them as the title suggests.


The final tracks sum up our travels and give resolve to the experience. Hard to Make Money is a little tongue-in-cheek poke at reality. The ‘man’ is always looking for money but giving us no real way to make it in the amount we need. We can't argue as we arrive at the final uplifting track. The closer, Take it Back, evokes flavors of Tedeschi Trucks or Reba McEntire. You will imagine the room on its feet as the powerful chorus soars towards the finish with a ‘how do you like me now’ message for the masses. The concert over, the journey complete, yet you want more. The band hears your chanting and comes back for one more before sending you again on your way. Tucked away at track 13 is an absolute jewel titled When it's All Said and Done like an installed encore. Falling just outside the album’s boundary, the song has a purposeful island feel. Uplifting and full of positive energy, the soft vocal number serves as the perfect postscript to our trip.

A fantastic album worthy of space in your collection as well as your head, How to Make Mistakes drops on August 23 and is available for pre-order.