May 7th 2018, Alana Trachenko

Local band Spruce and the Meadowlark promises that their new album is unlike anything you’ve heard before.

The group is dubbed as contemporary bluegrass, however lead singer Aisha Belle says that there are as many influences as there are band members. Tim Osmond (banjo), Lucas Kost (guitar), Ashley Au (bass) and Donovan Locken (mandolin) have known and played music with each other for many years, finally coming together about two years ago to form Spruce.

"It was just a style that hadn’t been done yet in the city," Belle said. "It’s really working for us as a band. It’s just like a new rootsy, folk, bluegrass marriage, so it’s kind of neat that we were able to come together and make that happen as a project."

Belle writes most of the songs and, as a songwriter, her background is mostly in folk. However as a violinist, she considers herself a classical musician. Osmond’s banjo adds a strong bluegrass element, while Au on bass, together with Belle on violin, create an orchestral sound. Kost provides a blues sound, and Locken, Belle’s husband, adds a touch of folk and roots with the mandolin.

The group is releasing their first album, Orchard Season, at the West End Cultural Centre on Thurs., May 17 at 8 p.m. (doors at 7:15). Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and are available at WECC, Into the Music (97 Osborne St.) and Ticketfly.

Belle says it’s taken just over a year to put the album together.

"Just coming together as a group to record or play shows makes you tighter musically. We have definitely gained that because we’ve done a lot of musical work together," Belle said. "We haven’t played as many shows as we liked because it’s hard to co-ordinate five people — we carry shows out without one of the members — but when we are playing as five, it’s the sound we want."

Belle said the recording process felt more like a live session, and it came together organically.

"We did it all live off the floor, we were super connected to each other — just a few mics and stood in a circle and wrote the songs out and played them and recorded our album," Belle said. "That was unique, to actually record the album with no piecing and chunking, not a lot of production… which not a lot of musicians can say these days. It’s not a very popular way to record albums, and that definitely brought us closer together."

Belle says the group is happy to finally have something for listeners to take home and get familiar with.

"You always grow as band members and musicians but yeah, for now it’s something we want people just to hear and enjoy."