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It is typical that an album (and often the artist responsible for it) is inseparable in the mind of the listener from the geographic location in which it was created. The Band’s Music from Big Pink or The Smith’s entire body of work are two examples. Ryan Hutchens is a singer-songwriter who currently resides in Denver, Colorado, but spent the previous decade in Columbia, South Carolina; hence his new album’s title The Last Ten Years. One should hesitate in considering it a concept album, but indeed many of the songs are purposely crafted as reflections on his former home. Consequently, the record has a quality which is more pensive and introspective than his previous work.
A handful of the songs such as “Education” and “Fortunate Peace” had been released in various forms before, adding to this retrospective attitude, but they’ve been superbly rerecorded. They also fit in perfectly with the newer songs too, but it is these newer songs which, admittedly, are the best on the album. With only the most necessary adornments, “Green My Eyes” has a beautiful, almost meditative quality; and Hutchens finds himself entirely capable of poppier leanings as well on the indelibly charming “The Trouble With You.” The Last Ten Years is caught somewhere in between a statement of transition and a declaration of maturity, and is arguably Hutchens finest creation yet.
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