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Album Review: Christian Lee Hutson- Beginners (Anti-Records)

Sweet Melancholia From An Old 29 Year Old

Roger Bowie

Christian Lee Hutson is a young man in an old skin. He’s had so much life experience that it’s maybe time to pack it all in, at least into a bunch of songs, and as he approaches the end of life he is struck by a melancholia which just won’t go away. Every aching chord change which this immaculately recorded album accentuates in a chord changing kind of way, lays out a melody crammed full of lyrical introspection. After all, he’s nearly thirty, and life is almost over at thirty. Don’t you remember?

Christian Lee Hutson Photo Credit Gus Black 2 scaled

Gus Black

Reminds you of early Simon without the Garfunkel, and more contemporaneously his idol Conor Oberst is also a clear if not deliberate influence as well as a contributor.

He’s so old that he opens with a song about end of life concern that maybe it’s time to rethink the atheism of his youth (Atheist) and follows up with a song about getting to grips with dying, or someone else dying, and not sure how to feel about that. Is it ok not to feel sad or sorry? After all he’s a chip off the old block, and all Talk. Lose This Number is one of the pre-released singles, dreamy vocals channelling Bright Eyes.  In Unforgivable he asks himself if it’s ok to be so fucking certain about a relationship being over when clearly, she still loves him.

And that’s a common theme, despite the age old wisdom which he endeavours to capture both lyrically and melodically, despite the fact that at 29 he’s really old, in many other ways he’s just a beginner, hence the album title, Beginners.

Northsiders, another already released song, takes him back to school and the idealism of youth, along with exploration, experimentation, rehab and accidental death. Could be a 60’s child, but it’s the noughties, and the naughties at the same time. Gentle orchestration behind the strum elevates the song above its essential melancholia. And then the band breaks up in Twin Soul. End of the world. How can one so young have so much life experience? Because he’s old, that’s why. Before his time. After Seven Lakes it’s time to Get The Old Band Back Together which almost rocks in anticipation, but there’s now a baby, and only two nights a week free (how can he be so lucky?) and so the hope of turning back the clock is false, this clock’s not for turning, and besides no one wants to play it fucking loud anymore. And now someone else knows me as well, too well. Too dangerous that, I’ll have to Keep You Down.

Single For the Summer completes this little gem of a collection of songs, full of false hope and hopeless nostalgia but with an undercurrent of self-deprecation which just manages to reassure us that in many ways he’s taking the piss. “Things are going to turn around again” is the refrain which builds optimistically but it hasn’t happened…. yet….nor yet..... and the album ends with a going down the plughole kind of sound.

Beginners was recorded in LA at Sound City Studios and produced by Phoebe Bridgers,  another precocious talent at the ripe old age of 25.

Brilliant. Christian Lee Hutson. Maybe he’s Benjamin Button? Check out the album. Beginners. Starting today.

Written By: Roger Bowie Roger Bowie has been collecting music since 1964, starting with 45 rpm singles, and then building an LP and CD collection from 1970. 1.8 per week since then. Not a vast collection, but eclectic and occasionally obscure. Roger is a big Americana fan, and regularly attends AmericanaFest in Nashville, held every September. Also, he once played golf with Alice Cooper...