With his sophomore album Quitters just a week old and a gig in Philadelphia tonight opening for Bright Eyes, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Christian Lee Huston stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon for a Free at Noon performance that was equal parts candid, contemplative, and charming.
Huston is a soft-voiced singer-songwriter in the spirit of Elliott Smith and Denison Witmer with an understated knack for dynamic songs and observational, somewhat humorous lyrics. Even opening on a seemingly solo acoustic note, as he did today with “Strawberry Lemonade,” the song built into an electrifying groove with drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Al Menne (of the band Great Grandpa) as Hutson sang wryly of a “baby boomer’s last acid trip.”
The rollicking “State Bird” from Quitters was about “quitting your job…and a little bit about Instagram.” A bit of lively banter with the audience followed (“we need to get you all some microphones”) to discuss his encounter with east coast winter weather, and how the consistent splendor of his native Santa Monica can cause you to pass literal years of your life without realizing. This dovetailed impeccably into “Lose This Number” and its reflections on aging — “the whole time I’ve just been sleeping, twenty years younger” — as well as the pensive, Sufjan-esque “Northsiders.”
Riley vacated the stage briefly after the set break, leaving Hutson and Menne to harmonize on a couple songs, including the Paul Simon-esque slice of life “Atheists” from Hutson’s debut Beginners; “Creature Feature” and “Rubberneckers” from Quitters ramped the set back up to a rocking close as Hutson explored the ennui of city life with a strain of optimism and cheer.
Quitters is available now via ANTI- Records — grab a copy here, and see Christian Lee Hutson open for Bright Eyes tonight at The Met Philly. Tickets and more information can be found at our Concerts and Events page.