Take a moment to peruse the images from Chris Crofton’s photoshoots, and you can’t help wondering, “what on earth is this guy thinking?” His Instagram feed is riddled with strange images representing his overly-hyped feeling from drinking Cold Brew Coffee. But with the help of his new album, listeners should take notice that Crofton’s thoughts aren’t always confined to earth. His new release, Hello It’s Me, projects a stream of consciousness that wends past one-bedroom apartments and lonely bars, ending up in outer space chasing UFOs. The album speaks volumes about the once-Nashville-comedian’s current disposition and the painful experiences that have brought him to where he is now. As if reborn from the ashes of a phoenix, the now-sober Crofton takes us up, down, and then back up again on his new record. You can hear the clarity in his voice when he dwells on his heartbreak. Though he’s moved past much of it, Crofton neatly packages that feeling, putting it onto wax for all of us to revel in as we see fit. The point is not to make listeners feel one way or another, but rather Hello It’s Me is a celebration of Crofton himself and how far he’s come over the past few years.
Put out by the Athens, Georgia-based Arrowhawk Records, Hello It’s Me was released on June 22nd. For how dynamic the record is, it’s unsurprising Crofton had some diverse assistance. Joining with artists like Jim James and Katie Toupin (formerly of Houndmouth), the album pits Crofton’s solemn verbalizations against pleasurably disruptive guitar riffs and propitious backup vocals. Opening with the title track, “Hello It’s Me,” the record maintains a brief façade. First impressions are influenced by Crofton’s hopeful voice, juxtaposed against a few lightly trodden piano keys. He greets his audience, takes a breath, and says, “it’s quarter to three.” Then, things quickly go downhill. Crofton actually admits that it is no longer a sunny Saturday afternoon in East Nashville. It’s the middle of the night, and he’s calling his ex-lover. He sings all the same, however, his croon coming across as Wayne Coyne-esque as ever. And though Crofton also admits that he does in fact miss his ex-lover, he’s “doing okay.” Whether or not that’s true, within a modest two minutes, Crofton connects himself intimately with his listeners. Even if he does sound more or less despondent, Crofton comes across evenly as someone who is trustworthy and thoughtful. For the next half-hour of Hello It’s Me, that quality does not falter whatsoever.
Alright, maybe he’s not okay. “Love Letter,” “Where Are You,” “Non-Conformist Blues,” “Night for Lovers,” and “Numbers Game” are all undeniable proof that the musician is hung up on someone, and badly. Still, Crofton is able – without straying from the sentimental theme he imparts through his lyrics – to touch on a different wavelength with every track. Take, for instance, his inspiring yawps of “champagne brunches and power lunches” on “Everywhere You Should Be (Except for In Love).” Jim James’s guitar-only guest solo on “UFO Hunters” – all coated and dripping with marvelous reverb – seems to barge in and pick us up at just the right time. Though the musician can’t help but wallow in his aches and pains from time to time, he’s just being honest with himself. Can we really blame him? Hello It’s Me shows Crofton effectively build a spectrum of hope, despair, diversion, disinterest, and passion in ten tracks. It’s Crofton’s gift to himself, and we should all tell him thank you.
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