Lounging on a couch at Stone Soup recording studio in Maumee, Chris Shutters comfortably listened to several tracks from his new self-titled album, Shutters.
“It’s so nice when you finally have it all come together,” he said of the work that began four years ago.
The album is a conglomeration of older songs now revised, along with new tracks. Fellow musicians Corky Laing and Kofi Baker, who regularly booked shows on the same date to purposely conflict with each other, inspired the first track, “Cut Me in Half.”
“They would want me to choose, so I finally told them, ‘You’re gonna have to cut me in half because I can’t be in two places at once,’” he said.
Shutters invited several artists to join him on the new album, including musicians from the Toledo Symphony Elizabeth Rice and Gyusun Han, who performed on the songs “Getting It Out” and “These Precious Lives.”
His family was also part of the project. His mother LuAnn helped write lyrics for “Swim, Sink or Save Me,” and his wife Maddison, aka Muddy, performed vocals on several tracks.
“She’s probably the best singer around,” Shutters said. “She (Maddison) was an integral part of the vocal sections in many of the songs. Her voice makes it – it’s definitely an honor of mine to have her on my album.”
Shutters took to music at the tender age of 2, when he would play songs that he heard on TV on a piano. His grandmother gave him piano lessons when he was 8, and then a buddy introduced him to the guitar.
“To me, the guitar made total sense,” Shutters said. “It’s like meeting the love of your life for the first time.”
His uncles – Tony Shutters and Denny Harrigan – were both well-known local guitar players who were happy to share the stage with their young nephew.
“They were both great, but they wouldn’t give me too much – I had to figure a lot of it out on my own,” he said. “I would watch them and remember what they were playing. Then I would go home and try to do what they were doing.”
In high school, he was part of a local band, but his interest in sports – baseball, football and boxing – took more of his attention. He was also an avid golfer, which he still regularly plays. After high school, he planned to pursue a career in electrical engineering but realized that music was his real calling, and he turned his attention to that.
“I love music. It is my obsession,” he said.
Shutters is a multi-instrumentalist, performing on the guitar, bass, drums, flute and piano. He has also won several competitions and toured both nationally and internationally.
Stone Soup owner Eric Sills considers Shutters among the best musicians with whom he works. He served as chief engineer and executive producer of Shutters’ self-titled project.
“Chris knows how to write a song that moves and goes places,” Sills said. “It’s a tough thing to write songs about your personal experiences and not have it sound contrived, and he just manages it effortlessly. He’s probably the best songwriter that I have ever worked with – his songs are not easy to play.”
For Shutters, pure joy comes from the process of breaking down a song and exploring its many layers and dimensions, which he was able to do with this album.
A release party is set for Saturday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. at the Bier Stube at 5333 Monroe St. in Toledo, west of Flanders Road.
In the meantime, the 36-year-old continues to keep a busy schedule, performing regularly at local gigs in three bands, including Fleetwood Gold, one of the top Fleetwood Mac tributes in the country. He and Maddison also recently welcomed their first child, Bowen Shutters.
“If you would have asked me five or six years ago, I never thought I would be in this good of shape now,” he said. “Everything went in a positive direction when I met my wife, Maddison. She brought more into my life than I ever would have imagined. I decided to get my life together. I have a future in music, and I want it to work.”