“I love it here,” Eric Hutchinson raves about living in Manhattan, his home for the past five years and, he says, a primary influence on the making of his latest LP, Moving Up Living Down (Warner Brothers Records). “I’d write songs all day in my little studio in New York and I’d go out at night and eat, drink, and soak up some inspiration.”
Much like the urban energies and nightlife diversions it draws from, the album emanates no shortage of uplifting rhythms and effervescent pop, folk, and R&B distinctions. As a follow-up to his debut, Sounds Like This, which topped the Billboard Heatseekers chart upon its release in 2007 and has sold over a quarter of a million copies to date, it’s solid and soulful.
On paper you come across as a singer/songwriter and people generally have a preconceived notion about what that suggests: perhaps a guitarist, a folk musician. But you’ve got a lot of R&B and pop influences coming through this new music.
Yeah, I mean, Stevie Wonder's a singer/songwriter. Paul Simon’s a singer/songwriter. The Beatles are singer/songwriters. I have a ton of different influences that I love. There are some songs on the album that are a little more traditional—like “Breakdown More,” [which] is an older song—that come closer to the singer/songwriter mold you’re talking about. I consider myself a soul singer, really, who writes songs.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what kinds of songs I want to sing with the crowd. I used to do slower songs, more shy, quiet stuff. That wasn’t very fun for me. And it wasn’t fun for the audience… This time around I really thought about what songs do I feel like are missing from my set. What do I want to sing with crowds? What do I want to lead people through? So I think that pushed some of where the music went.
You came to live performance rather late, didn’t you?