FAME Review: Meg Hutchinson - Beyond That
Meg Hutchinson - Beyond That

Beyond That

Meg Hutchinson

Red House Records - RHR CD 270

Available from Red House Records.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz

Meg Hutchinson has been writing and singing beautiful, introspective songs since she won her first Kerrville New Folk Award in 2000. Hailing from the hills of western Massachusetts and landing in the Boston area to pursue a career in music, she has performed with the likes of Martin Sexton, Susan Werner and Lori McKenna. In recent years she has joined forces and toured with Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman to celebrate their recording of seasonal and holiday tunes called Winterbloom.

Her new recording, Beyond That, was released by Red House Records in the fall of 2013. It takes us on a journey inward, and expresses the songwriter's growth as an artist and as an individual.

The first cut is Beyond That, which opens with a stunning piano solo. The implication here is that singer is leaving a difficult part of her life behind in order to move into a wide open future. November, representing the seasonal transition to the darkest time of the year, is left behind.

Only Just Begun continues the theme of moving forward and beyond. There is a delineation of past possessions and losses…a chronicle of emptiness it seems:

After all of these years of empty shells of empty houses
I wanna climb inside one now
After all these years of settling for less
Of calling something love every time I felt a pain inside my chest

The song ends on a positive note of looking ahead into a brighter future, declaring "my best work has only just begun."

One of the most beautiful songs I have heard on the idea of traveling inward and finding peace there is Hutchinson's song Nowhere. Here we find a simple, lovely vocal accompanied by the ethereal sound of Duke Levine's electric guitar. It is a perfect song.

The recording closes with a truly lovely tune called Everything More Beautiful. It brings together everything that Hutchinson has explored in this new work: the beauty of the natural world as well as the world within; the quiet of the mind; the peace that comes from within.

Crit Harmon should be congratulated for the beauty of the production…the bringing together of Duke Levine on guitars and mandolin, Jeff Berlin on drums and percussion, Hutchinson on piano and acoustic guitar, and his own work on programming synth, drum and acoustic guitar. The sound he has created is not only soft and dreamlike…best suited for a recording that explores the quiet spaces of the inner world…but also engaging and uplifting, too. There is nothing saccharine here, only great instrumentation, poetic lyrics with beautiful metaphors and Hutchinson's voice, which is the shining star and center of this production.

Few artists can capture our attention by moving inward and describing the beauty that lies there. Hutchinson has succeeded and succeeded beautifully by bringing the listener along on every step of the journey. Her mastery of the piano as an instrument that elicits deep emotion in the listener is extraordinary. This is a recording worth listening to over and over again to capture its every nuance; its every image and metaphor. Beyond That has that rare quality of being a true work of art.

Track List:

  • Beyond That
  • Only Just Begun
  • Making You a Place
  • Yellow Room
  • Nowhere
  • Remembrance
  • Osa (co-written with Eric Fawcett)
  • June
  • Let's Go
  • When the Lights Went Down
  • Turned to You
  • Safe
  • Everything More Beautiful
  • Epilogue: Paradiso (co-written with Eric Fawcett)
All songs written by Meg Hutchinson except where noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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