Make no mistake, Beginners by Christian Lee Hutson is a jewel box of a record. It’s a collection of songs that shows an artist peaking a songwriter. It doesn’t hurt that they’re accented by a few notable friends. Either way, it’s something very special.
Hutson began as a member of The Driftwood Singers in the early ’10’s before releasing two records under his own name. In 2018, he became acquainted with singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, who produced the entirety of Beginners. The deliberately low-key production style is reminiscent of Bridgers's own sound, which suits the gentle, melodic guitars and Hutson’s just-above-a-whisper vocals. It’s never more apparent on the album opener, “Atheist”, a breezy, gliding opener and the gentle, breathy strings of “Talk”, which were provided by Nathaniel Walcott of Bright Eyes. Walcott’s contributions also accent the sad, sweet sound of “Lose This Number”.
“Northsiders”, a 2019 single that Hutson released in advance of the album finds a home here, nestled at the album’s midpoint. It’s all tender, double-tracked vocals, while the ethereal setting of “Seven Lakes” feels like it could be a Sufjan Stevens composition if you didn’t know better. “Get the Old Band Back Together” and Single For The Summer” feels like Hutson’s attempt to make his sound more cinematic.
Christian Lee Hutson has made a soft record for our hard times. It’s a record for any season and its songs have a timeless, airy quality that’s often hard to get right. Beginners feels like the right title for the record - it’s not his first album, but it certainly feels like the start of a golden era for this songwriter.
- Brendan Hilliard, Obviate Media