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Micah P Hinson | The Baby & The Satellite (Sketchbook)
Micah P Hinson's voice is an instrument of flawed beauty. Not pitch perfect and lacking the range of a Buckley, it is as careworn as a confession box carpet. In its grainy depths there is truth, pain and hard-earned optimism. By the time Hinson was nineteen he had amassed a CV of misdemeanours that would have made Johnny Cash blush. His rap sheet included drug addiction, imprisonment, homelessness and bankruptcy. Music has proved to be his salvation and these songs vibrate with an intensity of a life lived hard and fast.
The songs on this mini LP are culled from a period before those on his debut proper 'The Gospel of Progress'. The material is powered along by Hinson's warm and rhythmic acoustic guitar playing. The guitar is mixed front and centre, the focus around which the rest of the backing rotates. Hinson has again drafted in various members of the Earlies to sprinkle their dustbowl magic on top of his musings.
Musically it is a close country cousin of the Tindersticks in stripped down form. Lambchop fronted by a young Tom Waits. The gospel soul stylings of The Leading Guy, with its choir of multi-tracked Hinsons, is a delight. The brisk guitar carries the song forward at a galloping pace while the organ gently swells under the chorus. After two minutes the crack of hollow drums rings out pushing the tempo forward, then the playing stops, allowing the vocals to flow into a sublime a cappella close.
The Dreams You Left Behind has a hymnal quality in its simple structure and aching melody, Hinson's rejected Christian fundamentalist childhood bleeding into his trouble psyche. Wasted Away opens with a tremolo organ outlining the chords before a lone reverberating guitar starts to imitate them, the instruments trading parts as the multi-tracked vocal unfurls.
The album closes with a collection of demos that show these songs in their earliest form. They have a naïve charm and brittle arrangements and offer insight into Hinson's working processes. The finished songs are brighter and more focused then the demos but they have not bleached out the emotion. These are honest songs, Hinson's battered innocence shines through them.