Sounds Like This
Eric Hutchinson was supposed to be made a star by Madonna, or at least by her label, but after Maverick went bullet-bra-up in 2005 and Hutchinson went back to self-releasing his own albums, it turned out that all he needed was one prominent blogger on his side. After Perez Hilton waxed rhapsodic about Hutchinson's Sounds Like This on his celeb gossip blog in the summer of 2007, the Virginia-born, L.A.-based singer/songwriter suddenly shot into the digital charts. It helps immensely that Hutchinson's third album is leaps and bounds beyond his previous two, That Could've Gone Better and the live EP ...Before I Sold Out: from the frisky piano-driven opener "OK, It's Alright with Me" onwards, Sounds Like This is a well-produced, cleverly arranged, and immensely catchy batch of AAA singer/songwriter pop songs. On the live EP, "Outside Villanova" sounded like the sort of faux-reggae soft rock fluff that Rupert Holmes might have released as a follow-up to "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)," but in its full-band version, the kitsch aspects of the song are transformed into something closer to Ben Folds Five. Overall, the general air of "sensitive guy with an acoustic guitar" endemic to this brand of singer/songwriter pop is neatly balanced with a sense of playfulness and a knack for quirky arrangement choices that keep the songs from merely dissipating in the air between speakers and ears. Sounds Like This will sound great on the in-house stereo at your local Starbucks, of course, but there's more to it than that.