Nathan Hussey may have chosen Christopher Hitchens as the namesake for his latest album, but it wasn’t the catalytic author’s politics that he drew the most inspiration from. Hussey, best known as the frontman and primary songwriter for Texas-based alternative rock outfit, All Get Out, was more motivated by Hitchens as a man; his intelligence, the veracity with which he supported his beliefs, his constant quest for personal evolution and, most of all, his life story.
Christopher Hitchens endured a lot of suffering. His mother, entangled in an affair, took her own life in a suicide pact with her lover. His father fought a long, drawn-out battle with esophageal cancer and the same disease would eventually lead to his own death. As Hussey delved deeper into Hitchens’ life and these tragedies, he began to think about how they likely affected his ideology and the questions that naturally arise from his beliefs. Simultaneously, Hussey witnessed his own family coping with loss and the two scenarios, taken together, would soon emerge as the central theme behind his new full-length, Hitchens.
Thematically, Hitchens is an observation on the Human Condition interpreted through personal experiences. Hussey did a masterful job of creating an ethereal soundscape that serves as the perfect vessel for tackling these sort of topics. The album was self-produced and mastered by Hussey and mixed by Mike Watts (The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Dear Hunter, As Tall As Lions). In having such complete control over the writing and recording process, Hussey enjoyed the “freedom to go a little more bare bones” than on the more intricately layered music of All Get Out. He found himself more concerned with the intimacy of the stories behind the tracks than the complexity of their song structures. This approach has resulted in a glimpse into a very different side of Hussey as a songwriter than we’re used to seeing.
Hitchens may be a new direction for Hussey, but that’s not to say All Get Out fans won’t enjoy it. Those who love that project will still find the potent lyrics and thoughtful songwriting that drew them to the band in the first place; just through a different lense. As Hussey sees it, the two projects feed off each other, presenting different challenges and making him a better writer. The diversity of approach also allows him to avoid the fatigue of writing in one format all the time. The ability to do a rock record one year and something a bit more low key the next keeps him inspired and allows him to passionately commit to making new music for both projects.
That passion and commitment are fully recognizable on this release and are at the core of what make it such a special record.