Christian Lee Hutson announced his sophomore effort Quitters on Wednesday with a new single called “Rubberneckers”.
The new record Quitters is produced by a familiar cast of characters. The omnipresent Phoebe Bridgers and her partner in crime Conor Oberst take the production credits on the record. This is not the first time the three have worked together. Bridgers, Hutson and Oberst have been trading credits on each others records since 2018. You can find Hutson’s name as a co-writer on the Better Oblivion Community Center and Boygenius records. Hutson may still be making a name for himself but there is plenty he has proven behind the scenes.
I was first introduced to Christian Lee Hutson on his 2020 debut record Beginners, also produced by Bridgers. Songs on Beginners are earnest, giving an intimate view into Hutson’s childhood and beyond. A great introduction to Hutson’s style is the opening track ‘Atheist’. The song is lifted on an intricate acoustic guitar riff common throughout the record. Hutson opts for an understated vocal delivery over the gorgeous guitar work. One thing I like most about Hutson’s songwriting is his lyrics. They are as intricate as his fingerpicking. He doesn’t shy away from ultra-specific descriptions. The thoughtful recounting of a flight into Chicago flows into his memories of microwaving t-shirts. The understated lyrics are so casually sung that they don’t read as outrageous, but strangely relatable. A quick Google search reports that putting clothes in a microwave is a “very bad idea”, but checking out Beginners is definitely not.
Hutson’s newest single ‘Rubberneckers’ ventures into different territory than previously mapped by Beginners. A lo-fi drum machine beat provides a soft foundation for a more simplified guitar lick. Hutson’s voice is distinct on the track. He sings without the usual accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. The vulnerability of this position is evident in the lyrics. As opposed to ‘Atheist’, ‘Rubberneckers’ replaces rumination with self-awareness. In the opening verse Hutson observes his commitment to the one he loves in contrast with the “Lost Lapsitters…” and “… , contest winners” in his home of Los Angeles. While the entertainment industry may be fickle Hutson can rely on something that is much more rewarding than fame. We’re getting a peek into the singer’s thoughts, not just his memories. When the chorus hits Bridger’s accompanies Hutson in an ambivalent harmony. The two posit,
If you tell a lie for long enough
then it becomes the truth
I am going to be okay someday
with or without you.
Hutson is leaving behind insecurity in favor of optimism, he doesn’t need to be what everybody expects to be himself. The world becomes even clearer in the second verse,
We’ve got rubberneckers, broken records
Never run to catch a bus
There’ll be another one.
The effects of voyeurs and backseat drivers are no strangers to musicians. In a town like LA, comparison is killer of joy but always freely available. Hutson is in no rush to appease what people expect from him. On ‘Rubberneckeckers’ Hutson is stepping from behind curtain to the spotlight at his own pace. We’re seeing Hutson in a new light, one where he bravely strips away expectations of his sound to shine in other ways.
Quitters comes out on ANIT- on April 1st. Watch the ‘Rubberneckers’ Music Video