By Kathleen Vogtle, NAMI Communications Coordinator
‘The healing power of music’ is a phrase often heard in our modern vernacular. However for many, these are not just words, but a lived experience.
Meg Hutchinson is a testament to this. Since her debut album, Meg Hutchinson in 1996, she has produced eight albums, participated in an award-winning documentary For the Love of the Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival, and is currently working on a feature length documentary that, according to her website, “will explore many of the topics nearest and dearest to her heart: music, mental health, wellness, healing, spirituality, and how those elements converge in making the world a better place.”
Hutchinson’s previous albums have also addressed these topics, particularly that of mental health. Having lived with mental illness, her songs are unique in that they reflect her personal experience, which is clearly heard in her latest album, Beyond That.
Beyond That is comprised of songs that celebrate overcoming adversity, and invites listeners to look beyond the difficulties in their lives to the potential of the future.
Each of the 14 tracks possesses a reflective, peaceful quality. The songs tell of a person who acknowledges the trials and difficulties of the past, but who has learned that these experiences should not haunt them, as those trials have shaped the person they are today. The lyrics of the first track speak poignantly to this theme:
Don’t let the darkness in, oh November
I’m already beyond that Meet me on
that sunny hill Cause I’m already
beyond that now Don’t let the darkness
in, oh remember
The entire album tells a story, beginning with an introduction and a reminder that these events are all in the past whilst acknowledging that the journey of recovery is a never-ending one.
The middle tracks are reminiscent of difficult times and a challenging start towards recovery.
These tracks contain elements of sadness, regret or nostalgia, such as in the track “Osa.”
I was never lonely, now I’m always lonely
Take me back to our path through the
However, Hutchinson invariably returns to her central theme, that recovery cannot be achieved without first understanding and forgiving yourself and the necessity of support and understanding from others. As such, her final tracks are steeped of appreciation for the world around her and reveal a growing inner peace. In the song “Everything More Beautiful,” Hutchinson sings,
The moon so fast, the clouds so still
Cracked like silver mud Or the tiles
of that old church ceiling, I slept under
when I was young
And everything more beautiful
the quieter I become
Hutchinson’s work urges her listeners to never give up hope, even in life’s darkest moments. Indeed, the album tells a powerful personal story on what it means to live with mental illness, a story listeners can easily connect with for strength and inspiration. For, as Hutchinson sings,
My best work has only just begun
Our best work has only just begun
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