In her newest Red House Records album, BEYOND THAT (released September 24th 2013) Meg Hutchinson teams up once again with veteran Boston producer Crit Harmon for what is her most modern and intricate production to date.
She says, “Crit and I have worked together for a decade now. I wanted to build on that trust and that shared musical language and really encourage each other to find new sounds. I felt that I had reached a new landscape in myself and I wanted the album to reflect that.”
The result is an album reminiscent of David Gray’s “White Ladder” where revelatory lyrics combine with a fresh contemporary production. Hutchinson has been busy in the three years since we last heard from her. She has relearned the piano and established a home studio giving her greater flexibility to explore new terrain. “I sang all my own vocals in my closet in the middle of the night, whenever the inspiration struck” says Hutchinson. “Crit and I delved deeply into a new soundscape and the fact that we could both work from our respective studios gave us total freedom.”
In her song “Yellow Room” she writes of a dream she had where she was getting on an amusement park ride but instead was flung into outer space and given a breathtaking view of our planet. She says “I was filled with the sheer beauty of seeing the earth from far away. Filled with this realization that we are all a family inhabiting this one tiny planet in the midst of a vast universe. In the dream all our human arguments were meaningless, and what I was left with was a profound sense of wonder.”
In addition to mastering new skills Hutchinson has clearly spent much of the last three years finding a deep peace. In her previous album THE LIVING SIDE Hutchinson spoke of wishing to unplug from technology and regain a stillness in her life. Her new album BEYOND THAT is evidence that she has taken this message to heart.
These songs are at once ecstatic and meditative. They are about coming home, about transforming desire, about how human love can open the heart for some greater purpose.
Hutchinson says, “I believe that the role of an artist is to keep braving that deep inner work, to keep growing. Creativity should be a method for transformation. This takes time, it takes quiet. I have spent a good deal of the last three years walking in the woods with my dog, sitting out on the rocks beside my favorite lake watching the sky go dark, learning a meditation and yoga practice.”
This new-found peace is all the more believable because Hutchinson has chosen to be open about her mental health struggles through the last decade. As a result of the messages inherent in her earlier albums COME UP FULL and THE LIVING SIDE, Hutchinson has increasingly been asked to speak and perform as a mental health advocate across the country at prestigious conferences and teaching hospitals like Johns Hopkins University.
This new collection of songs covers new themes. These are songs of desire and a love that seems to extend well beyond the human love she has clearly found.
“We live in the desire realm” says Hutchinson. If we look closely at our lives we see that all our senses are constantly hungry. We are addicted to information, to success, to consumption. I see this as a major cultural illness right now. We are always sure that there is something better, a better spouse, a better job, a bigger house. What we keep forgetting is that none of this pursuit is bringing us any closer to happiness.”
This new cycle of songs shows us another way. In “Only Just Begun” she contemplates how craving has been integral to survival but that she hopes to move beyond this instinctual blindness. She sings “My loves are many, my needs are few, billions of light years it’s taken me to get here.” She closes the song with the lines “My best work has only just begun, our best work has only just begun.” This seems not only a mission statement but a call to all of us to re-examine our lives.
These are celebratory hymns from a woman who has made it out the other side of some difficult years and who is inviting us to go “BEYOND THAT” with her now.
For more on the making of “ONLY JUST BEGUN” music video click here