On his ANTI- Records debut Beginners, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Christian Lee Hutson embeds every lyric with his most intimate self-dialogue, sharing painful confessions and private jokes, imagined conversations and elaborate daydreams. The album — produced by his friend and collaborator Phoebe Bridgers — spotlights a nuanced songcraft and understated candor that all but erases the distance between feeling and expression. Throughout this collection of songs, Hutson ultimately speaks an illuminating truth about regret and forgiveness and the endless confusion in growing up.
Hutson and Bridgers recorded Beginners at L.A.’s legendary Sound City Studios, but purposely preserved the homespun quality of his cell-phone-recorded demos. It mines its subtle textures from Hutson’s warm vocals and graceful guitar work, and also unfolds flashes of sonic brilliance achieved with the help of its guest musicians—including Bridgers herself, as well as Nathaniel Walcott of Bright Eyes (who created all the string arrangements for the album, in addition to playing trumpet).
Hutson also co-wrote a song on the 2018 debut EP from boygenius and two on the 2019 debut LP from Better Oblivion Community Center (with whom Hutson also toured as both a guitarist and support act). Last year, he toured supporting artists including Julia Jacklin and Okkervil River as well.
(Photo Credit: Gus Black)
Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.
My partner started watching Great British Bake-Off a couple years ago and every time she put it on, I’d be reading or doing something else and just sort of listening to what was happening. Historically in our household, we haven’t been cooking show people — or any kind of reality program, though I feel like it would be misleading to call GBBO a reality program. Or perhaps it would be even more accurate to call it a reality program, because it doesn’t seem to be scripted or manipulated in the way that true reality shows are.
I sort of laughed it off when she started watching it because it was something neither of us had ever done and was so seemingly out of character, but then I got sucked in. It’s such a comforting show. It seems like it exists outside of politics and religion and anything else that’s going on in the world. It’s like its own sort of escape from anything serious. Because of that, the stakes of the show — there’s just enough drama to make it interesting in that world. And there are so many seasons of it, so it’s really perfect for this kind of thing.
I definitely go for things that are at least an escape from whatever it is that is currently making me anxious. GBBO is a great one, because I’m rarely ever anxious about baking. A few months ago, my partner and I bought a bunch of different kinds of flour because we were going to make some holiday treats that we never ended up actually making, so we have a bunch of flour in our quarantine zone. We’ve been having our own private bake-off. We’re not great, but we’re average American bakers.
Hutson’s new album Beginners is out May 29 via ANTI- Records and is available for pre-order now.
(Photo Credit: Gus Black)