Eric Hutchinson Live EP Sounds Like Jason Mraz 2.0

EHutch - STL liveWhen I pulled the Eric Hutchinson  Sounds Like This Live album out of the mailbox a few weeks ago, I knew his name sounded familar.

So did the second song on the album, “Oh!”

Turns out Hutchinson has been around for awhile. Since 2003, technically, but he hadn’t hit the limelight until this past fall, when his song “Rock & Roll” got play in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and VH1 featured him on its “Musicians You Outta Know.” He plays  piano/acoustic folk pop that college kids adore. The younger, fresher Jason Mraz.

The Sounds Like This Live CD in the mailbox is a five-track EP of live versions of tracks from his most recent full-length Sounds Like This. Though this itself may be a cop out, the EP has the appeal of any band’s live album. The songs are less contrived, simpler and usually contain the always enjoyable clap along (see “You’ve Got You”). The sound has the raw acoustic strum and genuine inconsistencies in Hutchinson’s voice that makes music worth listening to and enjoying in the first place.

“Oh!” is the most noteworthy track on the album, with Hutchinson’s simple song structure driven by the (surprsise) ohhhing chorus  that he gets the audience to sing along with.  It’s easy on the ears, a neat, inoffensive little track. “You’ve Got You” is an acceptable second, a  punchy piano jam about pointing the blame.

Hutchinson’s not breaking the bank for creativity here, and I mean that about his music in general. The live EP, if anything, is probably more fun to listen to than the actual Sounds Like This album. He’s filling the gap where Mraz, Dispatch, and all those acoustic-driven folksy pop dudes left off for all the graduating high school seniors and college kids looking for a summer album.

If you need a CD for the drive to the beach with a bunch of friends with varying music tastes, snag a copy of Sounds Like This Live. It’s tolerable no matter what sort of music you like. But as far as a longterm musican, Hutchinson made need to change up if he wants to remain a recognizable name.

Liz Wagner

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