Brian Hutson – Midnight Sessions
Artistry is key to what Brian Hutson does and his debut EP Midnight Sessions amply illustrates that point. His songwriting has a distinctly commercial quality, but it never panders to the least common denominator and, instead, wins listeners over through its marriage of supremely emotive singing and resonant narratives that strike chords in audiences across the board. He pulls all this off with immense stylishness that never masks shallowness; instead, it offers a crowd pleasing veneer for sometimes thorny emotional depths that both his singing and songwriting depict shorn of much sentimentality and, instead, attempting to speak directly about human experiences. This is the sort of voice that’s built for a long career; Hutson has extraordinary gifts and never seems to strain for effect. Midnight Sessions generates plenty of vocal and musical atmospherics but he never arrives at pivotal moments taking shortcuts and cheating the songs.
It’s a little less than twenty minutes in total, but the five songs on Midnight Sessions have an impressive fullness that gives listeners an all-encompassing musical experience without ever testing their patience. “Break My Heart” is an excellent example of that as he takes a simple, common lyrical theme and makes it a convincing exploration of self that, despite any seriousness of intent, is propelled forward by a musical arrangement with the right dramatic turns, intelligent construction, and topped off by a singer who knows exactly when to step up his game. His voice is beyond technically accomplished; it’s, perhaps most importantly, intensely likeable. You want to believe this guy and cheer for him to see better days. The same convivial spirit makes “Kiss Me Feel It” an enjoyable experience from first second to last. It has a more acoustic sound than the opener and Hutson adjusts his voice accordingly for the song’s sonic demands. The more tempered approach, likewise, elicits a higher level of nuance from Hutson’s phrasing that dovetails satisfyingly with the music with a completeness the opener doesn’t quite match.
“One Night Stand” has a strong acoustic sound and more outright melancholy than we heard on the first two songs. It doesn’t come close to striking some heavy note of despair, but there’s certainly a more meditative edge tinged with quiet, subdued heartache. Hutson delivers an appropriately understated vocal, but definitely tunes into the song’s dramatic possibilities at critical points. There’s a lightly defiant spirit powering “Behind the Wall”, the idea that survival has its rewards and if you just keep pushing through, a better tomorrow can be your reward. It makes for the best chorus on an EP full of impactful refrains and seems tailor-made to be paired up with the last song on Midnight Sessions and its sole bonus track. Despite its “bonus” status, “Keep the Faith Alive” plays like a natural conclusion for this EP that brings in many of the moods we’ve heard invoked over the previous four tracks and puts an emphatic exclamation point on Hutson’s essentially positive message. It’s little qualities like this that make Midnight Sessions an even more complete listening experience.
Check out Midnight Sessions: https://soundcloud.com/brihutson/sets/midnight-sessions/s-9nAIq
Photo Credit: Zachary Shapiro