With a tremulously gruff yet sweet world-weary voice, Texan native Micah P Hinson has had a decidedly chequered life, his long battle with prescription drugs leading to an arrest, jail, loss of all possessions and subsequent homelessness. While living in a squalid motel and working at telemarketing, he wrote a clutch of songs about a failed relationship and his inner demons, played some gigs and, with help from The Earlies, recorded this debut album Micah P Hinson and The Gospel of Progress.
Signed to British indie Sketchbook and released in 2004, it became a cult success in Europe and, featuring on many year-end best of lists, saw him touted as the next Bob Dylan. He has since gone on to release a series of critically acclaimed albums, but, until now, his sold out first outing has been almost impossible to find.
However, his current label, Talitres, has now remastered and reissued it, including a vinyl version for the first time, along with previous 10” release Can’t Change A Thing as a bonus track, for the delight of his growing following.
Ten years on, it more than stands the test of time and is clear early evidence of the man’s talent for penning memorable tunes, catchy choruses and emotion-laced, often slightly despairing, lyrics. Indeed, sung in cracked, dusty tones, the first three numbers, Close Your Eyes, the heartaching Beneath The Rose and Don’t You (Part 1 & 2), are perfect examples of his melodic sensibilities and his canny ability to create haunting textures from very simple arrangements (mostly just acoustic guitar and occasional strings), although the six-minute latter does evolve into a full band flurry.
As an artist exploring his canvas, he ranges from the lurching slow gypsy mazurka-like flavour of Stand In My Way and the strumalong As You Can See to the stripped down piano starkness of The Nothing, Patience’s distortion drenched rage and frustration and the near nine minute The Day Texas Sank To The Bottom Of the Sea which slowly gathers from a cello backed chamber piece to a full anthemic flood on waves of organ and choral voices.
You Lost Sight On Me, he sings on a track haunted by the spirits of Cohen, Iron and Wine and Van Zandt. Thankfully, this reissue restores that vision.
Review by: Mike Davies
Out Now via Talitres
Order via Amazon