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Christian Lee Hutson - Quitters Music Album Reviews

Christian Lee Hutson - Quitters Music Album Reviews
With help from Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, the California songwriter tells conversational, painfully precise stories of sad sacks, lost souls, hopeless drunks, and ex-boyfriends.

Singer-songwriter Christian Lee Hutson is good-looking in a vague way that encourages strangers to mistake him for famous people—he’s posed with multiple fans insisting, despite his protests, that he is the English actor Dan Stevens. Born and raised in Santa Monica, he counts Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers as friends, both of whom receive production credits on his new album, Quitters. He’s also spent time as a touring guitarist for Jenny Lewis, even though he didn’t own an electric guitar when she invited him. With his blond locks and blue eyes, he resembles the foil in an Alexander Payne movie, the attractive guy to whom good things just keep happening.

The reality is more interesting. Before breaking through with 2020’s Beginners, Hutson spent years playing in wine bars to audiences of “two people who would be polite.” He spent years prior to that as a failed Americana singer, complete with fake accent and hardscrabble backstory, to escape what he calls his “shitty California voice.” In other words, Hutson is blessed with the kind of true self-loathing that can only mint the greatest singer-songwriters, and he’s spent years painstakingly stone-cutting his way through an internal wilderness to find his voice. He recorded the songs on his Beginners up to five or six times, in all different styles and arrangements, until he knew he’d found their essence.

Hutson’s current hero is Elliott Smith, and it only takes about two seconds of any given song to realize it. On both Beginners and Quitters, he sings in the exact double-tracked whisper, and he mics the strings of his acoustic guitar with the same intensity, like a nature documentarian filming a single grass blade. Hutson seems drawn to the bright, pretty sounds Smith made when he migrated to DreamWorks to record XO and Figure 8 and availed himself of all the added guitar parts and string sections he could suddenly afford. Like Smith did, Hutson also seems to be squirming underneath the beauty of his arrangements, squinting in their glare like a native New Yorker wilting in the L.A. sunlight.

The songs on Quitters suggest an abiding interest in the lonely sorts of communities we join in life without realizing we’re members. Unlike, say, Ray Davies, who narrates his characters’ inner lives like he’s observing an ant farm, Hutson mingles with his subjects, rubbing shoulders and scribbling down dialogue. His lyrics are full of second-person pronouns, snatches of conversations—half the time when he’s singing, he’s relaying someone else’s words to you.

He spends the first verse of “Age Difference” inhabiting the mind of an unhappy, possibly unsavory guy in his 30s, malingering with a much younger woman while sighing, “I think I was suicidal before you were even born.” It’s an x-ray characterization of a precise sort of creep, but Hutson quickly complicates the sketch, turning him into a sympathetic observer: “You watch your family drink the Kool-Aid/Powerless to stop them/First time as an adult that you wish you had been adopted.” The song trails off on a mournful image of the creep trying to cheer her up: “Do my impression of John Malkovich critiquing food in prison/At first it isn’t funny, then it is, and then it isn’t.” Few lyricists can paint such clear portraits in such a small space; even fewer can set them so naturally to such long-breathed melodies. Hutson has covered Taylor Swift’s “Betty,” suggesting that game recognizes game when it comes to lyrics that sound like conversation, slot together like crosswords, and sing like whistled tunes.

What’s more, Hutson does it repeatedly. Pick any song, and you’ll be rewarded with something painfully precise. On “Sitting Up With a Sick Friend,” he once again establishes the scene—the narrator is lying awake on the couch at a friend’s place, marveling at their inexplicable fondness for a terrible wall painting. “I have to figure out how to get rid of this stuff,” he sings, and suddenly we’re unsure if the sick friend is still alive, or if the narrator is mentally fast-forwarding to the moment he will be put in charge of this terrible painting, left to decide its fate.

Like anyone who uses first-person pronouns to tell compelling stories, Hutson invites the suspicion that these sad sacks, lost souls, hopeless drunks, and ex-boyfriends are all versions of himself. His laconic voice makes him inscrutable: You can’t quite tell if he’s denouncing you, pledging his undying love, or apologizing. What registers most clearly in his songs is weariness—every character on here confesses some version of it, whether it’s the friend who sometimes wished he’d just “randomly die” on “Sitting Up With a Sick Friend” to the character who stops a no-holds-barred fight with a partner to observe, “There’s an eyelash on your left cheek/I wanna tell you, but you’re yelling” on “State Bird.” All great writers are magpies and thieves, and all great writers are left alone at the end of the day. Hutson slips in and out of these people’s skins like a cat burglar, stealing away from each one with something irreplaceable.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Christian Lee Hutson - Quitters Music Album Reviews Christian Lee Hutson - Quitters Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 Rating: 5

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