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The Living Side

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Album Review

Meg Hutchinson grew up in the Massachusetts countryside without a computer or TV set. She started listening to the folk music and singer/songwriter records her parents loved when she was young, and when she was given her grandmother's Martin guitar, her path was set. Her parents were both English teachers, and she's obviously inherited their love of language. She majored in creative writing at Bard College, and after graduation started playing the lively Boston folk circuit, collecting rave reviews and songwriting kudos at the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival, and Merlefest. She's been touring relentlessly and has built up a strong following with her insightful, deeply personal songs. The music she created for The Living Side is meticulously constructed, and the jazzy pop arrangements she delivers with the help of producer Crit Harmon (Lori McKenna, Mary Gauthier) go down easy. You could call it ambient folk, and that's one of the problems with the set. The songs have a full, lush sound, but after a few tracks, the arrangements start blending into each other. There's no edge to underline her keen insights. Her husky voice is fine as far as it goes, but like the music, it often doesn't go far enough. She's calm and reserved even on "Hard to Change," where she's bemoaning the death of the American dream and complaining about billion dollar bailouts. It would be nice to hear a bit of anger or sarcasm in her voice. Her flat affect works better on songs like "Hopeful Things," where it gets support from Kevin Barry's smooth slide guitar work, or "Being Happy" which sports the album's best, catchiest melody and Hutchinson's warm, double-tracked backing harmonies. The backing vocals also bring some depth to "Full of Light," a tune with a nice, bubbling, rhythm bassline, while a cello adds a bit of dark beauty to "Something Else" the yearning song that closes the record. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Another great album from Meg

From beginning to end, this is a wonderful collection of songs -- gentle reflections on life and love with poetic lyrics that remain in your head long after the CD has ended. As on her previous album, "Come Up Full," there's a sense of personal affirmation in the face of difficulties, both inner and outer (e.g., "the night traveler is full of light," "can I stitch your sadness to the wind and let it go"). Hearing her sing, you feel as if you've been invited into an intimate conversation about finding meaning and hope in a world that isn't always easy for us. She has a distinctive voice and a unique way with words. Well worth multiple listenings. And if you haven't discovered her previous albums, this should be enough to send you back to them.

"As long as we live, there is never enough singing." quote by Martin Luther

This quote could say, "As long as we live, there is never enough singing from Meg Hutchinson".

Masterful Songwriting!

Sit back, relax, and let Meg walk you through her world, our world. The lyrics and melodies and her honest, understated delivery sketch images of places we've been, peering within and around us. If you have an opportunity to see her in concert, don't miss the chance - we all hung on every word and flowed along with her for the evening's ride. This is an album that leaves you feeling, leaves you sharing the joys and sorrows, light and dark we all experience. Here, you are left exceedingly grateful for Meg's ability to capture it all so artfully, so gracefully in her stories. Grammy pundits, come out from under your rocks and take notice - this is the cream of the crop!

The Living Side, Meg Hutchinson
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Customer Ratings