REVIEW: Chelsea Cutler Opens Eyes, Hearts at Marathon Music Works
Over the past couple of years, Chelsea Cutler‘s career has taken off like a rocket ship. Her sophomore album, When I Close My Eyes, has served as a true watershed moment in Cutler’s career, and has played a large role in helping her amass more than 750+ million streams to date, widespread acclaim from media outlets like NPR’s Weekend Edition, Variety, MTV News, Entertainment Tonight, COMPLEX, UPROXX, Consequence, HYPEBAE, and Ones To Watch; and festival performances at Coachella, Hangout Music Festival, Forecastle Festival, and more.
All of that was a recipe for a fun night and a packed house on Tuesday night, when the second leg of Cutler’s When I Close My Eyes tour came to Marathon Music Works in Nashville.
For more than two hours, Cutler had the audience — one would estimate about 1,400 fans in the building — hanging onto her every word. She stormed out of the gates with a high-energy opening sequence that included When I Close My Eyes deep cut “Under,” followed immediately by “Sad Tonight,” the opening track from her 2020 full-length debut, How to Be Human.
Through her relatable storytelling and enlivening stage presence, Cutler built upon her kinship with those in attendance throughout the night. Her remarkable knack for connecting with her audience on a personal level was on full display, which galvanized the room into numerous sing-along moments throughout the night.
The set featured plenty of opportunities for the crowd to join together in jubilation. Upbeat, shout-along bops like “Walking Away,” “Calling All Angels,” and “The Reason” were warmly received by those in attendance, as was a particularly triumphant rendition of the title track from When I Close My Eyes, delivered impeccably right before the encore.
However, one could argue that the set’s more tender moments brought out the crowd’s voices — and emotions — in even greater volume. Ballads like “Crazier Things” and “nj” strongly resonated with those in attendance, and a stripped rendition of “Crying Over You” — featuring a surprise guest appearance from Spencer Stewart of The Band CAMINO — was delivered with soul and the appropriate dose of melancholy.
Perhaps the most vulnerable — and triumphant — moment of all was “Devil on My Shoulder.” Cutler introduced the song by being open about her struggles with depression and anxiety, telling the audience that writing the song helped her realize that those struggles do not define her, how she lives her life, or how she loves. This led to a shared moment between the artist and her audience that was powerful enough to fill an arena, with seemingly every voice in the room singing every word at the top of their lungs.
Cutler’s performance capped a night full of rising stars and feel-good music. Supporting her on the tour were the prolific and versatile Arden Jones, whose bright alt-pop soundscapes were matched by his contagious, warm stage presence. Jones’ set was followed by charismatic LA-based producer and DJ Ayokay, who kept the party going with a dynamic set of breezy, ambient electropop.