Christian Lee Hutson – Quitters: A fitting soundtrack to a bleak age

Hutson is looking around him, wondering about truth, lies and fractured dreams

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Artist: Christian Lee Hutson
Genre: Alternative
Label: Anti

The uneasy laugh at the start of Quitters hints at what is to come. In common with the rest of the world, Christian Lee Hutson and his vivid cast of troubled Angeleno characters are going through a bleak time. The sense of anxiety and melancholy permeating the 13 tracks that make up his follow-up to Beginners, his remarkable indie-folk debut from 2020, is striking. But, as with Beginners, he wraps these jagged, elliptical stories in delicious haunted melodies and intriguing, colourful, self-deprecating lyrics: “I’m a self-esteem vending machine/ A doctor’s office magazine/ A funhouse at the county fair/ A staircase to nowhere” (Rubberneckers).

Hutson's "best friend", the equally impressive Phoebe Bridgers, produces again but this time shares duties with fellow indie luminary Conor Oberst. Together they help Hutson stretch the sonic possibilities of his essentially acoustic music (with nods to Elliot Smith) without distracting from his mission to describe the world the way it is, as novelist (and key Hutson influence) Scott McClanahan puts it in the official biog.

With Beginners, Hutson was looking back on childhood; with Quitters, “on the dark side of my 30s” (Age Difference), he is looking around him, wondering about truth, lies and fractured dreams. Appropriately, his voice sounds resigned, as if drained of hope. And yet somehow these songs, even those with rough edges, are infused with a real sense of humanity, their black humour cocking a snook at an indifferent world.