Fenne Lily & Christian Lee Hutson
At the age of 23, Fenne Lily is a recovering catastrophist. In the world of her music, Fenne’s inveterate vulnerability transforms what-ifs into worse case scenarios, hypotheticals into heartache. This heart-on-sleeve ethos spawned her early songwriting and colored the emotional intensity of her already confessional work. Now, she’s facing this tendency towards
emergency head on.
“Hypochondriac,” the Bristol singer’s debut single on Dead Oceans, reflects on this struggle and her own role in solving it. “It’s the first in a collection of tracks addressing myself as both the cause of and solution to my anxieties.” Somewhere between the guitar-first catharsis of early Big Thief
and the urgent honesty of Sharon Van Etten, Fenne finds the track’s footing.
Fenne’s new material represents a graduation of sorts from the relationship-based themes of her breakout On Hold, and from the rooted plaintiveness of her vocal delivery. She wants dynamism. She wants to be heard. “It’s time for me to be loud if I wanna be loud and not feel like I’m gonna piss anyone off,” Fenne offers up. Though, it’s not an abandonment of these traits she’s known for but a deliberate construction upon them. Fenne says these songs are simply “a more grown up way of being all the things I have always been and always will be.”
Christian Lee Hutson
Christian Lee Hutson starts his new album Quitters with a laugh. In this follow up to his ANTI records debut, Beginners, Hutson moves away from the focus on growing up to the dread and complications of growing older. The laugh that announces Quitters is the kind you’ll find at the end of John Huston films, one of resignation and release, and somehow a cosmic laugh that says “California,” a place where lonely people gather together like birds.
Across Quitters’ 13 tracks, Hutson crafts this portrait of the place he’s from. In these short story-like songs, Hutson presents characters who carry this golden light and sinister geography inside them. It’s a place where everything in the end gets blown away and paved over with something new, where even the ocean and fires are always whispering, “One day we’ll take it all back.” This is a Los Angeles in constant transition, where childhood is lost, where home is gone and can never be visited again. Yet Hutson’s world is also one of happy accidents, where doors are left open on purpose, hoping that someone new will walk through. In the end, what’s left are these songs created by some future spirit, written to comfort the person we are now.
Produced by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, Quitters is also a departure from the digital recording of his debut. Hutson stated, “When we made Beginners the aim was to make simple digital recordings of how I would play the songs in the room. With this record, Phoebe and Conor had an idea that it would be fun to make it to tape. Phoebe is my best friend and making Beginners with her was so comfortable and easy. So I wanted to work with her again.” “I took a long time with Beginners,” Hutson added. “I had those songs for 10 years, but these songs came out a lot faster.” Because the songs from Quitters were written in a shorter time, “there was a little bit of insecurity with the lyrics. Having Conor there served the purpose of someone who I really respect as a lyricist and could soothe my anxiety.”