Eric Hutchinson

...Before I Sold Out

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The wryly titled ...Before I Sold Out was recorded in 2004 in front of an enthusiastic live audience. It was at one time meant to be Eric Hutchinson's buzz-building first release for Madonna's label Maverick Records, but when that label was basically shut down by legal wrangling between it and parent company Warner Brothers, Hutchinson wisely chose to bail and return to the self-distribution model. Finally released in 2006, this energetic seven-track set sounds like Hutchinson would likely have been at least as big as Jason Mraz or Ben Kweller if he'd managed to get the major-label promo machinery to line up behind him. Hutchinson is not a blinding, once in a generation talent, but every era needs its sensitive-guy singer/songwriters, and with John Mayer largely abandoning his original sorority girl audience in order to play da blooz, Hutchinson could easily slip into that market niche with songs like the vaguely ecological "Modern Age" and the heart-on-sleeve lost love ballad "Breakdown More." Switching to piano for three songs, Hutchinson turns into a full-on '70s-style soft rocker, an Andrew Gold for the new millennium, on the reggae-lite "Outside Villanova." Undeniably talented, and with an appealingly self-deprecating line in between-song patter, Hutchinson is a potential minor star in his chosen style, but ...Before I Sold Out lacks that one truly great song that would put him over the top.

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