By: Hope Ankney
Staring into the camera at a wooden table with a patterned cloth laid overtop it in front of a rather quaint kitchen setting, sits Chris Crofton wearing a simple, yellow polo-styled shirt with a half-lit cigarette wedged easily between his fingers. It’s this setup featuring his icy blue gaze that the listener is greeted by when they see the album cover for his newest release, Hello its Me. In many ways, this image symbolizes what’s to be expected throughout the record.
Being a former stand-up comedian and rock band leader, Chris Crofton’s newest release is a bit of a restraint as it delves into the softer and more vulnerable side of his mind. The album isn’t shy regarding his Nashville roots, offering a healthy mix of folk and twangy blues from beginning to end. It comes on the heels of a rough breakup that ultimately takes hold of the material and uses its pull as an overarching theme.
Appropriately named, Hello it’s Me, both in cover and in sound, is a direct message of where Crofton resided in body and spirit during the record’s creation. It is acoustic-heavy and littered with lyrics and vocals that detail an undisguised side of who he is or has come to be. There is little humor to mask his emotions and a lack of thrashing instrumentals to distract from his softer interior. As he sits unguarded at the kitchen table, he’s welcoming the audience into the normalcy of his life to have them meet the unembellished man in a yellow shirt.
When one listens to Hello it’s Me, it is very straightforward. There’s nothing adorning the tracks, no elaborate musicality or exaggerated instrumentals. It’s an easy folk album, allowing no room for misinterpretation. But, isn’t that the beauty of folk’s roots? There’s no hidden meaning behind the music. The songs are about what the songs are about. As Crofton croons and strains his vocals throughout this heartbreakingly turbulent album, it becomes more and more apparent that the country-tinged folk record is a catharsis for himself and a solid treat for the audience.
Being stripped completely, his vocals and lyrical content resembles the rawness of Ben Folds’ talents, another comedian that utilizes his music into powerful folk-pop that lets a story play out as much through his voice as it does through his words. There’s track ranging from the likes of “UFO Hunters,” which features My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, that ties heartbreak and the desperate hopefulness and dedication to rediscovering a past lover to UFO chasers who scan the stars for fate and celestial beings to tracks like “Love Letter” that highlights a rare upbeat sound throughout the record with the likes of guitar twangs and glittering keys, lyrics optimistic of an ex returning after reading a heartfelt message. The intimacy of it all makes it hard to imagine Crofton not writing the album at the privacy of his own dining table.
Hello it’s Me is a solid, ten track journey that chronicles Chris Crofton’s ability to let his walls down and deliver John Denver lays behind fervent lyrics. No longer a walking stereotype of the “rock n roll lifestyle,” Crofton has purged himself, renewed his talents and proved he can stand on two legs without a comedy act or brash noises to elevate him. Even through “Everywhere You Should Be,” a broodier song featuring darker musicality and a steadier beat, there’s a softening to the rough edges of Crofton’s vocal delivery due to the airy duet with Katie Toupin. The album gives a platform to melancholy and vulnerability, instantly holding a connection with the listener. Hello it’s Me is like shaking hands with yourself, trying to rediscover who you are and how to reconcile that. It’s a comfort through any and all summertime blues.