Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion on music, travel and the arts by writer Graham Reid
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006: Micah P Hinson
Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Micah P Hinson and the Opera Circuit (Sketchbook/EMI)
Hinson from Texas came to Auckland in August last year for a low-key show at the Wine Bar on K Rd, playing to a capacity audience of about . . . ahh, maybe 30 people.
No matter, he was darkly engrossing and his spare songs of loss and pain wouldn't have sounded out of place if Kurt Cobain had sung them. (Not dissimilar drug problems for a period in Hinson's life incidentally)
His album at that time -- Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress -- was gripping and scored a rare five stars in the Herald ("a classic debut" said Russell Baillie), and it ended up on the newspaper's Best of 2006 list. At that time I wrote (at least I think it was me) "his melancholy, lovelorn alt-country songs came from deep and considered places, and the sense of emotional despair was offset by gorgeous tunes and intelligent, ambitious arrangements".
That all remains intact for his 11-track third album which again sports brooding arrangements of cello, mandolin, banjo, guitars, trombone, old upright piano and so on. There is a slight country flavour in places (even a touch of Tex-Mex), but here he extends himself with unusual string arrangements which atmospherically underscore the pathos, or add some extra impact to the density of the emotions.
Hinson is probably always fated to be a minor figure, but his tobacco-cured voice, open-wound emotions and genuine feel for a simple yet affecting melody make him someone very much worth having around the house as an intelligent and welcome guest.
This big but perhaps unnecessary retrospective of a living legend is available in double disc, four-CD or four-LP formats.
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