Artist: Daniel Hutchens
Album: The Beautiful Vicious Cycle of Life
Label: Pretty Mean Records
Release Date: 04/22/2016
Daniel Hutchens’ The Beautiful Vicious Cycle Of Life plays out a little differently than the title suggests it might. This third solo album by the leader of the Georgia rockers Bloodkin presents what its maker likens to a series of endings and beginnings. So, rather than flow, it blows this way and that like a day-long rainstorm, every song either beautiful or vicious, or both at the same time. Influenced by the beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and with an obviously insatiable and bursting rock and roll heart, Hutchens writes and performs at a level far above the norm. As produced by Widespread Panic’s bassist Dave Schools and featuring a muscular cast of players including Schools and Panic drummer Duane Trucks holding down the paces, the album makes a monumental impact in every way that counts. The cunning, catchy riffing and plow through “Jack Nicholson Grin” right away snags you tightly for the whole of it.
But the mood abruptly changes, Hutchens tackling human failings in the context of “American Country Ghosts,” an amazing, evocative epic that anyone can relate to. An angry drunk stars in “Wings and a Walking Cane,” which leaks a little Dylan through Hutchens’ harp and melody, while the brawny, marauding rocker “Epitaph Town” might feature the same guy on his way to the ultimate place he doesn’t want to go. The triple guitars of Hutchens, David Barbe, and Frank MacDonnell in the latter give off a sound not unlike Steve Earle or Alejandro Escovedo at their rocking best. A light and airy nature pervades “Pretty Girls in Summer Dresses,” as it should, the song calling to mind nineteen seventies pop-inflected heartland rock, but with a decided edge. More like Big Star than Mellencamp. Take your time with this album, because while easily digested, it has layers and layers to savor. Traversing many moods, but rooted in a very particular style, Daniel Hutchens hit a home run here.