I love albums that sweep you along swiftly yet poignantly, and by the end, you feel as if you just watched your life go by in that 45 minutes. It feels like the soundtrack to the most introspective and inspiring indie movie — all that’s missing is the actual film and dialogue. Now that’s what I call some good art.
Hutch Heelan has accomplished such a feat. The Portland alt-pop rocker, who collaborates with many of his favorite local musicians and artists, displays his many talents in his new 10-track CD, “Inner Space Odyssey.”
I was immediately sucked into the first track, “Into the Middle of Somewhere.” A jolly-sounding guitar melody introduces itself, something you might hear from a commercial for allergy medication showing a young woman in a flowing dress running, laughing and smiling through fields of flowers. This is a happy place; a simple place. Heelan’s pleasing and hopeful voice enters the scene, and the song becomes one — catchy, undemanding and deliciously palatable.
“The Cardinal Song (Connie’s Song)” struck me as a dedication to Heelan’s mother, and is truly moving and heartfelt. With melody surging and drums marching, Heelan croons, “She comes to visit us in the form of a cardinal/ The song she sings is always confident/ And even though I know that we all will miss her/ Know that she is always with us.”
The songs can become epic, with guitar melody rolling tastefully, organ and synth emoting, and drums laid back, refined and engineered masterfully into the mix. There are subtle changes in momentum: Climbing and falling, relaxed and reveling, searching and asking, wondering and contemplating.
This is an album that will give the listener a place to be peaceful and contemplative, but also space to just listen without dissecting — an easy place to go. I was singing along within minutes of listening.
You can catch Hutch Heelan’s CD-release party for “Inner Space Odyssey” at 9 p.m. Saturday at Empire Dine and Dance in Portland (portlandempire.com). Valerie Orth and Johnny Cremains will open, and there’s a $7 cover.
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.