BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Although something of a homegrown hero in her native Massachusetts, Meg Hutchinson has maintained a relatively low profile as far as the rest of the nation is concerned. Her serene sound and precious folkie-like gaze haven’t provided the forward thrust needed to ensure maximum market play. There’s certainly no assurance that Beyond That will take her, well, beyond that, at least in terms of providing her with a more emphatic impression, but it ought to indicate the kind of beauty she’s capable of crafting.
Certainly, the new album finds her in a meditative mood. The songs bask in pensive and plaintive tones, given shimmery arrangements that rely on little more than piano, guitar and the occasional synth. Austere and reflective, tracks such as “Only Just Begun,” “When the Lights Go Down” and “Turned To You” sounds like a summit between Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant while both are under the veil of quiet contemplation. Yet, those precious intentions leave little opportunity for variety, and it takes tracks like “Let’s Go,” with its gentle but earnest impulses, and the similarly serene “Making You a Place,” which provides a subtle call and response as the song tails off, to really provide the distinguishing standouts.
Still, Beyond That ought to find favor with those that fancy patchouli and comfort of a cozy quilt or, indeed, anyone else who welcomes a momentary respite from a crowded and crazy world. Solace is indeed, often hard to find.
DOWNLOAD: “Let’s Go,” “Making You a Place,” “Only Just Begun”