This Texan alt-country anti-hero has spent most of his career being sad. But, as everyone knows, melancholia generally makes for the best music.
Now that he’s all coupled up in romantic bliss with his wife Ashley – he proposed on stage at London’s Union Chapel in December 2007 – you might worry about the state of his creative spark. But no fretting is necessary, as this lovely fourth offering proves Micah P Hinson is currently on the finest form of his life.
Micah P Hinson And The Red Empire Orchestra is a remarkable listen from start to finish; taking in woozy dark acoustic ditties, soaring string and scratchy reverb-fuelled sing-alongs and intense stripped back ballads with highlights coming in the form of Tell Me It Ain’t So, I Keep Havin’ These Dreams, You Will Find Me and the utterly swoonsome Sunrise Over The Olympus Mons.
Add to this Hinson’s trademark deep, sonorous baritone which marries each melody beautifully to both the lavish and more lo-fi tracks on this compelling release and you’ve even got some of the loveliest alt-country efforts ever committed to record.
The majority of this most recent work was written for the singer/songwriter’s new bride (her photograph graces the cover as well as being taped tightly to his acoustic guitar and she walked down the aisle to a string arrangement from one of these songs) and as a result there is a definite magic pervading each track, even during its more sorrowful moments such as Tell Me Ain’t So’s heart-rending refrain of “constantly craving what isn’t mine” over sumptuous violins and shimmering pianos.
Most importantly the romance on display, exemplified perhaps most candidly by Sunrise Over The Olympus Mons, is never over-done; the record’s sophisticated and subtle production and Hinson’s understated delivery of these songs keeping them from ever becoming too saccharine.
After a life that has seen this cult singer survive numerous heartbreaks, various addictions to prescription drugs and the toughest of times in jail, on the street and in mental institutions, you can’t help but feel that Micah P Hinson pours each of these experiences and emotions into his music and that he, more than most, now deserves to be happy. It’s been a tough old time overall but this rich and varied new incarnation heralds a new stage in the talented young troubadour’s life, both personally and musically. We await his next move with baited breath.