Album Review: Hutch Harris – ‘Only Water’

Posted: by The Editor

You wake up early. The sun is poking through your blinds, and then in a flash, your dog comes into your room, jumps on you and and licks your face. There is no going back to sleep now. Hutch Harris’ Only Water is the soundtrack that plays in your head as soon as your first foot touches the carpet when you roll out of bed and make coffee.

The album’s intro track, “I’m Ready to Leave,” sets a mellow yet melodious tone which provides a backbone to the album. While the warm guitar sounds of this record are reminiscent of his musical past, in Only Water, Harris’ voice has a whisper-like quality that brings his sound into the future. This quality helps to emphasize the highest points in his vocal range, creating striking melodies.

Only Water follows a stricter song structure, and seems, at least lyrically, less stream of consciousness than normally associated with Harris’ other songs. They seem almost conversational at times. Tracks like “You Can Believe Me Now,” and “I Belong to No One,” use catchy hooks and guitar lines, while not compromising the aforementioned backbone. This structure is adhered to through the repetition of lyrics and themes. Harris conveys solitary emotions through this repetition, and in tracks such as “I Will Try To Forget You,” the lyrics, You’re out of my life, You’re still in my head, I will try to forget,” are reprised. Repetition is also seen in the album’s final track, “I Walked Back Home,” both lyrically and instrumentally. The guitars are robotic, like an assembly line.

Sonically, the album embraces natural sounds. Nothing seems overproduced, or phony. The guitars and drums are clean. In the moments where guitars are modified by reverb, it’s almost as if Harris packed up the studio and recorded in a cave somewhere deep in the wilderness of Oregon. The claps in the intro of “You and Yesterday” blend into the drums so delicately, it’s hard to distinguish percussion from human.

Only Water is reminiscent of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s earlier records, and is the perfect lounging around, or taking a long drive on a Fall day record. It’s definitely a departure from The Thermals and their punk attributes, but Harris’ songwriting is still recognizable and unique in a more indie setting.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Ryan Bartlett | @RyanBartlett12

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