Anyone can write a song. There’s more than technical skill and charisma required to write a good one, though.
As Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt and John Prine would all tell you, songwriters need to study their soul as long and hard as they study their craft; a song that transcends beyond the first listen rests on a certain understanding of the human condition.
As self-aware as he is self-deprecating, Christian Lee Hutson is a student of those disciples and isn’t afraid to cut deep into his psyche to further his work and mine a new song. He has plenty of time on his hands to sit alone with his thoughts, too, spending about 250 days a year traveling the country and playing shows all on his lonesome.
“When you are moving fast and in a different place every day, you experience life faster,” Hutson said. “A week on the road feels like a year. It sort of ages you more rapidly. Your emotional capacity kind of demands that you get rid of whatever good or bad thing is going on to be able to digest more.”
Maybe there’s something to be said for slowing things down, though. Consumption and the subsequent purge might be at the core of his creative spirit, but the songs from his 2013 debut album, The Hell with It, felt like they died before they even got a chance to live.
That’s why Hutson decided to experiment with the release of his sophomore album, Yeah Okay I Know. The record has slowly leaked out as a single and video on the last day of each month with a full vinyl release plotted for the end of 2014.
“This makes it so that every month feels like a party for me. Maybe that’s selfish, but it makes it so that I get to focus and process what a song is really all about. This is a way to force people to actually listen to an album in the most excruciating way possible,” he joked.
It helps that his modern take on folk — à la Jason Isbell — was delivered with a more radio-friendly lilt this go-around, at least according to Hutson.
“The intention was to make a pop record,” he said. “I’ve had people argue with me about that, but in my weird, messed-up mind, that’s still what I did: Make a Taylor Swift album. I tried learning how to be Kanye West.”
Playing Sunday at Red Brick Bar, Hutson doesn’t know how or when he’ll release either album waiting in the wings, but he is seeking to find the perfect balance between moving forward and looking back.
“Nostalgia is toxic,” he said. “It’s good to a point, but when you sit with something for too long, it will anchor you in a bad way, and I don’t want to feel anchored down.”
Christian Lee Hutson
9 p.m. Sunday
Red Brick Bar
311 E. Main St., Norman