The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Eric Hutchinson finds surprise success with “Sounds Like This”

Ellen Costa | Monday, September 24, 2007

Perez Hilton. Haven’t heard of him? Well, then you probably haven’t heard of Eric Hutchinson, either.

Perez Hilton, arguably the most famous of bloggers today, writes a gossip blog (www.perezhilton.com) that receives over three million unique visitors each day. Though we may not be quick to admit, quite a few of us can be counted among those three million.

So what does any of this have to with Eric Hutchinson?

Quite a lot, actually. Earlier this month, Hilton posted a link and some fervent commentary on his site about Hutchinson’s album, “Sounds Like This.” It seems like Hilton’s readers agree with his opinion – within days, Hutchinson had reached No. 5 on the iTunes best-sellers chart without even having a record label. Surprisingly, the instantaneous success was well deserved.

“Sounds Like This,” released a little under a month ago, boasts a great collection of well-learned music. While Hutchinson’s sound is a new and modern mix of pop and soul, his musical influences – the prime of pop’s days gone by – are quite evident. The melodies are easy to pick up, sticking with listeners long past the end of each track. Hutchinson’s lyrics catch you by surprise, though, at every changing line.

The songs “Rock & Roll” and “Food Chain” are Hutchinson’s best example of this. At first they seem innocent, in a Jason Mraz-type way, but the songs’ meanings are much more pleasurable than banana pancakes His lyrics are well thought out and meticulously placed, and they are packed with Hutchinson’s personal sarcasm and wit. Once his listeners realize this, they instantly feel a connection to Hutchinson. More than just feeling his passion for music, they can get to know his personality and sense of humor.

Though “soul” might best describe Hutchinson’s style, “Sounds Like This” works for anyone, anywhere – it is a great on-the-go track list. This is a rare occurrence for any artist’s first full-length album, but Hutchinson pulls it off with the strong emotion of his tracks.

Even more than the emotion, though, Hutchinson is bringing something new to the scene. Not just another singer-songwriter in his twenties strumming his guitar and banking on his green eyes, Hutchinson shines because of his strong, soulful influences. “You Don’t Have to Believe Me” particularly echoes classic 1970s soul music. Hutchinson’s simple melodies and cleverly catchy lyrics, though, are what really make this album stand out among the multitude of other talented artists.

Hutchinson mixes guitar, piano, other vocals and more to achieve a diverse sound. This makes the tracks layered and much more exciting to list because they don’t get repetitive too quickly. Some describe Hutchinson’s style as “intelligent pop,” and while this is lovable pop music, the instruments and vocals are layered and the music attains a certain depth that few pop artists achieve.

The album starts off with the sugarcoated “Ok, It’s Alright With Me,” an instant pick-me-up tune filled with anecdotes of silly love and everyday occurrences. Just as Hutchinson gives listeners a taste of his humor within his lyrics, each of the tracks tells some personal story.

While each song is unique and lovable, the last two tracks of the album become a bit tedious. They slow the album’s pace, causing listeners to start losing the interest that the liveliness of earlier tracks held. But, given that “Sounds Like This” is Hutchinson’s first album, some blips and errors are almost expected.

Craving celebrity gossip and crude yet hilarious comments? Go visit Perez Hilton. Craving a refreshing mix of funky folk rock with wonderfully clever lyrics that leave you feeling great? Eric Hutchinson’s your guy.