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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

caleb lee hutchinson

Caleb Lee Hutchinson Is Not Afraid to Step Outside His Comfort Zone

Sometimes Caleb Lee Hutchinson places himself in some really good company, but only when he’s explaining how he wants to shift his music into cool new directions.  

“I want to honor country music and kind of push it forward in my own way,” Hutchinson says. “That’s what the people I’ve always loved most in country music have done—people like Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr.” 

But even ol’ Waylon and the younger Hank never had quite what it takes to offer up the playful, slinky “Silverado,” which kicks off Southern Galactic with what sounds suspiciously like a nod to disco, or at least the Rolling Stones’ version of it. The arresting lead-off track is his tongue-in-cheek take on a top modern country trope, a song about a truck.

“I thought it was kinda funny to make a song with the most ‘pop country’ lyric, title, and theme and not sound at all like pop country,” Caleb says. 

While the funky groove of “Silverado” isn’t the only dance-worthy one on the album, most of the 11 other songs are more akin to the more traditional country that has more or less been Hutchinson’s bread and butter since he was just a boy in Georgia. For those who recall him as the handsome, clean-cut kid with the fully grown voice who almost won American Idol a few years back, his newer sounds (as well as his scruffier appearance) may provoke at least a mild case of shock.


A Change Of Sonic Scenery 

You can credit much of the album’s adventurous genre-bending spirit and its offbeat instrumentation (including keyboard synthesizers) to outsider producer and sometimes co-writer Titanic Sinclair (real name: Corey Mixter), who is perhaps better versed in rock, pop and electronica. Their collaboration started on a whim, really, after Hutchinson reached out via Instagram, and the two hit it off for real during a couple of subsequent Zoom conversations. Hutchinson gratefully accepted an invitation to fly out from Nashville to Sinclair’s home studio near San Antonio, Texas, and they made the album in about a week.  

Hutchinson had worked with other talented and successful producers before, including Brent Cobb and Kristian Bush, but this time was different. He and Sinclair played all of the instruments and sang all the vocal parts themselves, freely exchanging ideas for lyrics and arrangements.  

“It was kind of a luxury because I was more involved in the process and felt so in control of everything that was played,” he says. 

  The sessions, and the songs that resulted from them, energized Hutchinson—maybe even giving him a new lease on life, or at least his career. He had been going through a dark period emotionally and was questioning whether he should continue to pursue his dream or to surrender it to some other, more stable, livelihood. He goes into detail about it in an episode of his Green Couch Podcast on YouTube, but his sad-face waltz “Quarter Life Crisis,” with Hutchinson’s typically frank lyrics, boils it down even more. The bottom line seems to be that nothing brings Hutchinson more joy than singing and playing guitar, but doing it for a living can be frustrating in a lot of ways.  

His Move To Nashville 

Still just 25, Hutchinson was fresh out of high school when his confident charm and bold baritone quickly made him a contender in the TV talent competition in 2018. He placed second and used the momentum to launch a solo career. Then things got confusing.  

For one thing, the pandemic came along and slowed him down at a critical juncture. More personally, he was having trouble adjusting to life on his own in Nashville. He had grown up in the small town of Dallas, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta, which was probably one-fiftieth the size of the intimidating country music metropolis.  

“I do so bad with cities,” Caleb Lee Hutchinson says. “I grew up hunting and fishing and spent most of my time outdoors. When I first moved to Nashville, I lived in a high-rise downtown, and it made me depressed. I hated having to go down the elevator and through the parking garage just to leave home. It was always noisy, and there were no trees around except for those that were along the sidewalks. I kind of underestimated how big of a change that was.”  

Things are better these days, since he’s moved to a more suburban area where he can stretch out a bit. “We’ve got a trail with a bunch of woods and stuff, so I can go somewhere and be quiet,” he says. “That’s very important to me.” 

But nothing, he says, fulfills him as much as making music, something he’s done for half his life now. And nothing ever will.  

“I just think it’s one of the greatest gifts that God gave us,” he says, “and I can’t imagine finding anything else that brings such a sense of purpose for me.” 

Lee Brice – More Than a Memory
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