(Dirt Heel Records)
By Mike O’Cull www.mikeocull.com
Los Angeles songwriter Tyler Hutton channels the best tunesmiths of the 20th Century on his new album Invictus, which came out September 14th, 2019 on Dirt Heel Records. Hutton has an instantly infatuating quality to his songs comprised of genuine emotion, organic rock grit, and a highly-developed melodic instinct and Invictus is loaded with it. His sound encompasses folk, rock, and guitar pop influences in a way that’s reminiscent of George Harrison’s post-Beatle solo work, which means this record is going to appeal to a lot of people.
The songs on Invictus are built on the sound of real human performance and are only produced as far as they need to be. As a result, they deliver a warmth and authenticity absent from most of today’s electronically-overwrought music. The opening track, “For You From You,” is just the first of many stunners here that stake out a territory somewhere between The Beatles and Elvis Costello and it will remind you of what pop music was supposed to be in the first place. Hutton is an excellent singer and guitarist and his skills make this set a winner.
“Through My Window” is a fantastic song about a moody man with a secret who isn’t sure the one he loves is quite ready to meet his real self. It’s an example of high-level songcraft that’s one big hook from start to finish and conveys a different message than you first expect it to. “Promise” begins as a delicate acoustic guitar ballad, gets psychedelic for just a moment, then explodes into a Wings-like rock instrumental that gets a little trippy before circling back to its acoustic origins. Hutton’s use of dynamics and open space are masterful and they make “Promise” one of the record’s finest moments.
The title song, “Invictus,” is another gem that closes the set in style. Hutton has the unique ability to effortlessly exude the sophisticated pop/rock vibe that defined 70s radio and blend it with his own individual ways of making music. “Invictus” feels like McCartney and Elton John at their best but imitates neither. There isn’t a bad cut on this platter and Hutton is giving off every sign of becoming one of the most vital new artists on the Left Coast. Invictus is worth all the time you can give it, so you’d better get started.
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