Friday, April 20, 2012

Album Review: Moving Up Living Down by Eric Hutchinson

It's been four years since the clever and talented Eric Hutchinson hit the scene with Sounds Like This, but he's finally back for more. Hutchinson expands his genre on Moving Up Living Down, but still keeps some of the Motown feel he's become known for.

Moving Up Living Down kicks off with "Talk is Cheap," a song which serves to demonstrate Hutchinson's abilities as a vocalist from the fore. Although "Talk is Cheap" starts out like a traditional Motown or soul tune, it breaks down into a reggae beat that's a little surprising for Hutchinson. "Best Days" is a much more traditional tune for Hutchinson, featuring the sentiment: "and when this craziness is through//I'll spend my happiness with you."

Hutchinson seems to discuss his roots and inspirations in "The Basement," a celebration of classic 60s/70s rock and soul that finds him channeling Little Richard. The lead single, "Watching You Watch Him" is a catchy ditty with interconnected beats and guitar vaguely reminiscent of late-era Talk Talk and the overall feel of an early 70s Paul Simon song.

"Breakdown More" is a calm tune with touches of a country music sound to it. "The People I Know" is a more traditional Hutchinson tune, in the vein of "Oh." "The People I Know" outlines some relationships in the protagonist's life, wrapping up the stories with a chorus of "how'm I gonna get by//without the help of the people I know?//For better or for worse we all come together//and they won't let me die alone." The digital sounds on "Living in the Afterlife" would sound out of place on an Eric Hutchinson album, but he somehow makes them a part of his sound. "Living in the Afterlife" borrows from late 80s Michael Jackson. Hutchinson's voice is once again showcased on "In the First Place." "I'm Not Cool" is another song that almost could have been on Sounds Like This, featuring a series of stories to prove a main point.

The reggae beat is brought back for the closing song, "Not There Yet." "Not There Yet" could stand to be a stronger song, particularly since it's the closer. Toward the middle of the song, it even begins to feel a little repetitive. "Not There Yet" isn't a weak song, but it's probably one of the weaker tracks on the album.

Moving Up Living Down is a solid album. It's not as strong as Sounds Like This, and I almost feel like Moving Up Living Down has less soul than the former album, although there are also a lot more musical tests in this most recent record. Hutchinson's soulful voice and talent at both lyrics and music definitely make the album worth a listen.

Eric Hutchinson is a singer-songwriter.

Moving Up Living Down can be purchased here.

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