Lyric-based, contemporary acoustic songwriter. Influences include poet Mary Oliver, songwriter Shawn Colvin, and mood maker David Gray. Originally from rural western-most Massachusetts, Hutchinson is now based in the Boston area. She has won numerous songwriting awards in the US, Ireland and UK, including recognition from John Lennon Songwriting Competition, Billboard Song Contest and prestigious competitions at Merlefest, NewSong, Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, Telluride and Rocky Mountain Folks Festivals. She released “Come Up Full” on Red House Records in 2008, and is now celebrating the release of her new album “The Living Side” February 9th, 2010.
ABOUT “THE LIVING SIDE”
Called a “master of introspective ballads” (Performing Songwriter), award-winning acoustic songwriter Meg Hutchinson brings a poet’s sensibility to everyday scenes, painting a vivid picture of the way America lives today, giving us her most political and personal album to date – THE LIVING SIDE.
Meg Hutchinson takes us on a musical journey deep within her life, where we see our own lives reflected back at us. As master songwriter John Gorka says, “After you hear Meg, you feel you’ve been somewhere.” Turning her poet’s eye toward these uncertain times with that same honest, closely observed perspective from which she charts her most intimate songs, she asks the questions that plague all of us. “I think of this album as a conversation,” Hutchinson says. “These songs are full of questions, and I’ve tried to leave space for the listeners to answer.”
Hutchinson’s songs begin with vivid, naturalistic images, of apple orchards and trailer parks, stark factory towns and the Statue of Liberty. But she is guiding us to more intimate places, exploring how we feel in this time of fast and frightening change. The album begins with “Hard to Change,” a song about our struggle to unplug from our high-tech gadgets and more fully connect with each other.
“I grew up in the country without a TV or internet,” Hutchinson says. “There were so many quiet hours in the day. So many spaces between events. We have forgotten how to be alone in our thoughts. All the best work comes out of that rich stillness of waiting.”
Whether singing about technology, billion dollar bailouts or global warming, Meg Hutchinson makes these big issues personal by showing how they affect our everyday lives. She goes beyond the casual observation of current events and explores the emotion behind the experiences, bringing thc characters’ inner lives out into the open, as is evident in the tracks “Being Happy” and “Gatekeeper.”
These songs were brought to life with the help of veteran producer Crit Harmon (Lori McKenna, Mary Gauthier, Martin Sexton), who worked with Hutchinson on her last critically acclaimed album COME UP FULL. “When Meg brought me these songs, I heard something new in every listen,” says Harmon. “I wanted the recordings to have that same element of discovery. It was a challenge to create a soundscape as thoughtfully woven together as Meg’s songs. Meg’s singing is captivating.” Keeping Hutchinson’s vocals at the center of the recording, Harmon brought in some of New England’s best and busiest session players including Kevin Barry (guitars), Richard Gates (bass), and Brad Hatfield (keyboards, string arrangements). With moody wurlitzer and lush strings, THE LIVING SIDE is cinematic and hopeful – a hypnotic musical ourney that takes on new emotional meaning with every listen and encourages us to choose the living side.
BIO: MEG HUTCHINSON
Meg Hutchinson is an award-winning songwriter who artfully documents the human condition. With a poet’s ease, she makes the personal universal, allowing people’s stories to come alive through her unique vocals and haunting melodies. Since the release of her Red House Records debut COME UP FULL, she has won high praise for her songwriting and has been featured nationally on NPR Music, XM/Sirius Radio and several times on the syndicated show Mountain Stage. Publications like The Winnipeg Free Press have compared her songwriting with that of veterans Dar Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Joni Mitchell.
Growing up in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, the woods and ponds were her childhood muses, as were songwriters like Greg Brown and Joni Mitchell, and poets like Mary Oliver, William Stafford, William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Robert Frost. When Hutchinson inherited her grandmother’s 1957 Martin guitar at age eleven, her love of words found an inspiring instrument, and there was no turning back. “Songwriting is not something I chose, I’ve just somehow always known that this is what I love to do. This is what I can’t help but do,” she says.
After graduating from college with a degree in creative writing, Hutchinson quit her longtime job on an organic lettuce farm and settled in Boston. In between gigs at pubs, coffeehouses and train stations, she won a Kerrville New Folk Award (2000) and was nominated for a Boston Music Award for her first studio album AGAINST THE GREY.
She went on to win awards at the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, the Telluride Troubadour Songwriter’s Showcase in Colorado and The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest in North Carolina, all in the course of a year, causing national publications like Performing Songwriter to take notice, calling her “A master of introspective ballads filled with understated yearning and an exquisite sense of metaphor.” She quickly became an integral part of the vibrant Boston songwriting community. Like every great performer who has come out of the Boston scene, Hutchinson took to the subway, performing in Park Street, Downtown Crossing and Davis Square stations–honing her chops in the same method of predecessors like Martin Sexton, John Mayer, Paula Cole and Tracy Chapman.
After recording her live CD ANY GIVEN DAY in 2001, and continuing to build a fan base throughout the Northeast, she went into the studio with esteemed producer Crit Harmon (Lori McKenna, Martin Sexton, Mary Gauthier) to record THE CROSSING. Released in 2004, this album was enthusiastically received by critics and DJs across the country, catching the attention of renowned folk/roots label Red House Records. Label president and veteran producer Eric Peltoniemi knew there was something special in the young singer-songwriter, “Meg won me over with the profound yet easy depth of her lyrics—rich words married to melodies I just can’t get out of my head.” Knowing her songs could stand alongside those by Red House heavyweights Greg Brown, Eliza Gilkyson and John Gorka, Peltoniemi signed Hutchinson to the label. Teaming up again with Crit Harmon, Hutchinson recorded her Red House debut COME UP FULL over the course of more than a year in Boston. An instant folk hit, the album was one of the most played on folk and college radio and landed her on many “best of the year” lists.
In 2008, Meg Hutchinson went on to tour with such artists as Lori McKenna, Martin Sexton, Susan Werner, Luka Bloom and Joe Pug, handily winning over new fans on both sides of the Atlantic. She was also a favorite at South By Southwest (SXSW) and the International Folk Alliance Conference, showing that this was a young talent to be reckoned with.
In fall the of 2009, Meg Hutchinson joined fellow songwriters Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman to record the holiday EP WINTERBLOOM: TRADITIONS REARRANGED. A collection of eclectic holiday and wintertime tunes, the CD features original and traditional songs from a variety of backgrounds–from a German hymn to a Yiddish folksong to a midwinter Greg Brown ballad. Touring in support of the album, the four women performed concerts in 12 cities, making appearances on such popular stations as WFUV, WUMB and WKSU FolkAlley.
Now, with the release of her new album THE LIVING SIDE, Meg Hutchinson shows that she is a songwriter that has fully arrived. Combining her raw storytelling folk style with tasteful, intimate production, the album showcases her sweet, earthy vocals and her most powerful songwriting to date. It confirms that she is indeed one of the great voices of the next generation of acoustic musicians.