So, my brother calls me out of the blue one day and excitedly explains to me that he has discovered the most "amazing" singer-songwriter that he has heard in ages. I was skeptical, as he usually likes the absolute worst music imaginable within the punk, hardcore, and indie genres. Thus I returned his enthusiasm for this newfound artist, Micah P. Hinson, with a blasÃƒÂ© attitude and a half hearted "Cool, I'll check it out." A few months later my brother came to visit me. He puts on one of Hinson's previous albums,Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress, and introduces me to him. What I heard that day was an incredibly down to earth sounding singer with great musical arrangements that had much character and color. I enjoyed it and went out of my way to gather what I could from Hinson.
Now, Micah P. Hinson readies his latest album for his new home Jade Tree. This may sound like an odd fit, but it sounds logical when one really thinks about it. Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit is a logical step in his growing body of work. To call it alt-country or folk or even indie would discredit the varied sound that Hinson displays with this album.
Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit begins like a slow rolling mid-summer evening that is hot and makes one in the mood to be incredibly lazy. "Seems Almost Impossible" has just that type of pacing with the whistling grasshoppers and guitar. As the harmonica kicks in, you settle in for the album the way you would to a tall glass of iced tea, or whatever your chosen poison is. By the time the vocals come humming in, you are engrossed. The album has its claws in you. The song is so slow it almost does not register that this is a song as opposed to a laid back conversation. "Diggin a Grave" changes the pace real nice with an accordion, banjo, harmonica, and stomping rhythm that propel the song into some kind of debauched sing-along in some hole bar in the Midwest. It is short and sweet. "Jackeyed" is an excellent track. The wide array of instrumentation that is utilized here from the Theremin to mariachi styled horns shows off Hinson's ability to arrange music. The song has a great hook too that just tops it off right.
"Drift off to Sleep" is a great description for the song let alone the title. It perfectly describes the mood that it projects. One can visualize heavy lidded eyes on small faces that are fighting off the pull of nights slumber. The next song, "Letter from Huntsville" is rather upbeat and evokes images of some ragtime group with its bouncing horns. "She Don't Own Me" has a great melody. It is one of my favorite tracks on Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit. "You're Only Lonely" is one of the loudest songs on the record. The manner with which it builds in intensity adds to the overall effect of the song a great deal. "Don't Leave Me Know" starts off with a similar lollygagging feel of the opener excepting the vocals leave the feeling of closing rather than beginning. The track eventually descends into a noisy mess to chase the album down to the end.
Micah P. Hinson has a weird charm to his vocals that seem to hold the album together. The way that he treats his arrangements like an orchestral arrangements, even though he does not use typical orchestral instrumentation, is a breath of fresh air in today's glutted musical landscape. Don't wait on this talented artist like I did. He is worth your listening time. Hinson is a gem that hopefully many people will discover on his newfound label here in the US. Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit is just as good a place as any to start. It is a good album and showcases his varied techniques and abilities. I have to give kudos to Jade Tree for putting Hinson's records out and making them more readily available. I declare this a four-alarm hipster alert.
8.5 / 10
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Posted Jan. 23, 2006, 11:01 a.m.
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