Dave Gutter sure knows how to have a mid-life crisis, and we get to hear all about it over the course of five songs on his debut solo release, “I’ve Been Here a While,” which came out Monday.

I was hooked right away with the opening track “Midlife Crisis” and its lines: “At 101, I can still be the nicest/Used to be young, don’t even look like the picture on my license.”

All it took was a COVID-19 diagnosis in March and two weeks spent quarantined in his daughter’s bedroom for Gutter, in his mid-40s, to get inspired to write these songs.

Gutter told me that, when he was sick, friends he hadn’t spoken to in years were calling him to say how they always thought he was a “really great guy.” Gutter realized that some of these friends wondered if perhaps he wouldn’t recover.

“It wasn’t like my life flashed before my eyes, but it flashed before other people’s, so I decided to make a very honest, personal, self-deprecating album about the fear and humiliation of getting older.”

In that vein, Gutter said that he intentionally ditched all forms of vanity, posturing or trying to portray himself in a flattering light. “I wanted to be myself and tap into a more raw expression, and as a result, everything flowed very naturally.”

The songs were recorded by Gutter at the Rustic Overtones’ studio and were mixed and mastered by Gutter and Ryan Ordway at The Studio in Portland. Gutter plays all the instruments, with just a few outside contributions. You’ll hear Bensbeendead’s vocals and Jamie Colpoys’ trombone on “The End (Buried Alive),” Tony McNaboe’s piano on “Loser of the Year,” and Michael Koharian’s drum programming on “Midlife Crisis.”

Rustic Overtones’s Dave Gutter performs via live-stream as part of the Waterville Rocks series from the empty Waterville Opera House in Waterville on Aug. 28, 2020. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

In “The Poet,” Gutter sings the lines: “Like the symmetry of Mona Lisa and the madness of Van Gogh,/I’m the devil that hides in the details when the Vatican City is closed.” During the refrain, he repeats the words “I wasn’t meant for this era.” Poetry indeed.

The self-deprecation takes center stage in “Loser of the Year.”

“I’d like to thank my family, ’cause losing’s in my blood/To all the ancestors who failed me, I wish you could see what I’ve become/I am the loser of the year.”

It’s actually my favorite track on the EP because it’s a slow-to-mid-tempo lament of a rock song with Gutter’s scruffy vocals strong as ever.

“Buried Alive” closes out the EP with the voice of Bensbeendead (Ben Thompson) singing about getting down with the devil while dispensing life advice about not letting other people’s egos affect you. Gutter takes over, and his line include: “There’s no picking trash from a littered past/There’s no going back, there’s no prequel.”

The longtime Rustic Overtones singer and guitarist has also released an accompanying YouTube video, and the first thing you see on the screen are the words: “This is a one act play about getting older.”  The 17-minute production was filmed by Sarah Violette at an empty St. Lawrence Arts Center.

Here’s the YouTube video:

“I’ve Been Here a While” is for sale digitally, and Gutter said it’s the first part of a series. When all the parts are finished, he’ll release them on vinyl.

Comments are not available on this story.