Posted: June 29, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The tradition of sad men singing beautifully about their pain runs deep through the folk genre as well as popular music as a whole. But there’s something especially tender about the music of artists like Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, Sufjan Stevens and Jason Molina, all self-deprecating masters of the English language who, through their own perpetual battles with depression and heartbreak and life in general, each taught (or are still teaching) us something new about the preciousness of the human condition.

Joining that lineage of great singer/songwriters is L.A.-based musician Christian Lee Hutson, who recently released his new album “Beginners” after a year or so of hype building. Hutson worked closely with Phoebe Bridgers, who produced the record, and he also co-wrote a song on Bridgers’ and Oberst’s Better Oblivion Community Center album from last year, plus opened/played guitar for them on that tour.

Hutson sounds so much like Smith you have to wonder if it’s cosplay—like Smith, his voice is airy and strained, yet so soft, and his lyrics possess a similar noir, but funny mood—but he also sings like Bridgers. While the similarities to both his contemporaries and those who came before him are impossible to ignore, there are few musicians who could pull off singing about an aspiring building inspector and make it so equally funny and sweet—but Hutson possesses a rare balance of critical wit and soul.

On album standout “Lose this Number,” he slips in anecdotal blips (“Bobby helped me track you down / ‘cause I just saw your name in the paper / You said, ’Of course that reminded you of me / Don’t you know that’s how a name works?’”) alongside vague, but vivid, imagery that will spark all one’s senses at once (“Where the whole time I’ve just been asleep here / Twenty years younger / Smell of sugar and seaweed / Indian summer.”)

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