Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Dates: October 25, 2019

Doors: 6PM | All Ages | Tickets: $10-$15

"I think it has a broad array of sounds," Hutchinson says of the new tunes. "They're not quite folky, not quite singer-songwriter, but leaning on that side of country, and that's my favorite thing - there's all kinds of craziness going on."

With a swampy slide guitar leading the charge, Hutchinson gets real in a hurry on "As Good As You Think I Am," connected in part to the double-edged sword of American Idol fame. Propulsive and yet introspective, "It's not about living up to expectations and pressure," he explains, "but just trying to be a person someone else can be proud of."

The humble sentiment continues on "Steering Wheel Prayers," an early-morning conversation between God and a regular Joe presented in quiet, piano-forward desperation. "It hit me in the gut, because there was a period in my life when I had to learn to accept myself and grow," Hutchinson admits. The woozy "If I Ever Will" nurses a bad breakup, two-stepping through a smoky honky tonk and conjuring neo-traditional memories "like somebody's guts falling out onto the table," he says.

Meanwhile, "Belle of the Bar" takes a turn toward dreamy modern rock, with ambient guitars and vocal echoes framing a blue-jeaned version of love at first sight. "It's a good mix of what I'm going for," Hutchinson says, "traditional, modern and experimental at the same time." But to truly grasp that "modern and experimental" side, look no further than 'Better Now."

Feeling like a glimpse of a genre-less future, the love forlorn ballad features a low-down storyline and drips in soulful twang - but its' actually another Post Malone send up, this one a platinum-certified hit stripped to its foundation. "It's the whole reason I love country," Hutchinson explains about the striking roots-rap hybrid. "It's vulnerable and honest, and it was also a chance to do something real funky and weird."

Looking back, Hutchinson admits he's often thought of his music as "weird," but the dark rock anthem "Left of Me" proves others are not so dismissive. Written by Hutchinson solo during the 2018 American Idol Live! Tour, it fuses the sonic edge of underground heroes like the Drive by Truckers with a melodic sense benefiting a student of radio icons like Tom Petty, and points the way forward for Hutchinson to bring something "different" to country. He actually assumed his booming tale of romantic hindsight wasn't good enough to record ... but Bush put those fears to rest.

"At first I thought 'What can I possibly have to say that hasn't already been said?'" Hutchinson admits. "But [Bush] was like 'No, you have a story to tell.'" To be sure, that story is just now beginning to unfold. But one thing is already certain - it will be his, and his alone.

"There ain't no point in doing something if 100 people are doing it already," he says. "If I'm really gonna do this with my life and I'm really gonna take a leap of faith, I might as well do it in a way that means something to me."

Caleb Lee Hutchinson
  • 35 Station St
  • Chattanooga, TN 37408
  • to
  • Songbirds North Stage
  • $