Texas-based singer-songwriter Micah P. Hinson will release his second official full-length, Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit on October 10 on the Jade Tree label. He will also tour the West Coast in July with David Bazan.
Hinson won much acclaim in 2004, particularly in the UK for his debut album Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress. Hinson, born in Memphis, TN, into a strict Christian fundamentalist household, experienced a turbulent period in his late teens, involving narcotics, jail time for forging prescriptions and a tumultuous relationship with a Vogue cover model – all before the age of 20, Hinson was homeless, penniless and abandoned by his family. He was eventually forced to declare himself bankrupt and moved into a motel and acquired a mundane telemarketing job. During this period, Micah still managed to write around 30 songs on borrowed instruments and equipment. Many of the songs he recorded during this period ended up as The Baby and The Satellite EP which finally saw the light of day earlier this year on Jade Tree.
The Opera Circuit was recorded under strange conditions.
After celebrating Burns night in 2005 in his hometown (“quite a strange thing to do in Abilene, Texas”), a ’high spirited’ friend playfully hit Micah square in the small of his back. “I went paralyzed for a moment, sucked it up and went back to life”. However, “over the next few weeks the pressure caved in and I could barely stand up. I was hunched over in constant pain”. With a imminent tour of Europe in the Spring of 2005 to support The Baby and the Satellite EP, “I had to get back on the horse and ride it again. Like having to share a bed again with an ’ancient, ugly lover’ that was better left as a half-formed memory. It was 40 mg. of Codeine (Opiate), 100 mg. of Soma (muscle relaxer), 2 mg of Xanax (anti-anxiety and mind-eraser), 400 mg. Neurontin (anti-loony), and a few others and all this within every and any given day of my life”. Ironically, Micah found himself on the same prescription drugs as those he had been addicted to before he made The Gospel Of Progress, but under very different circumstances.
With little knowledge of just of how serious his back condition was, two months on the road aggravated his initial injury to breaking point. When Micah returned home to the US he was rushed to hospital to have back surgery. “I was in hospital for weeks, I couldn’t turn myself for over a month, had a walker, a corset (ironically a lot like the corset on The Gospel of Progress artwork), a shower chair as I couldn’t properly stand, I had to piss sitting down for awhile, basically a living nightmare.”
“The reason why I tell you all these things is because I want you to see and read where my life was when I began and finished this new full length record. I did the majority of the recordings sitting around the house, during the times I could actually get out of bed. Friends came to Abilene from all over to record their parts”. Eric Bachmann (of Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers) lent a helping hand and arranged the strings and horns, while Micah’s current touring partner and Gospel Of Progress veteran, H. Da Massa, traveled from Manchester, England to lay down Harmonica. Micah christened the band ’The Opera Circuit’.
The 11 songs that make up Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit are the real deal – a document of friends “shooting the shit” on dusty summer evenings while creating some of the most beautiful and heartfelt music. This method of recording makes truly intimate and warm listen, from the sounds of crickets in the long grass on the opening front-porch lullaby ’Seems Almost Impossible’ to the surface hiss on prairie ballad, ‘She Don’t Own Me’, while the heavier, ’band’ songs on the album, such as ‘Letter from Huntsville’ and the epic beast, ’You’re Only Lonely’, sound as if they are straight out of a basement jam session. Perhaps the highlight of the album, though, is the beautiful piano led closing death-ballad, ’Don’t Leave Me Now’. While the album is layered with instrumentation, there is sense of space that allows Micah’s beautifully cracked yet warm vocal and matured songwriting to shine through with a real presence. Micah P. Hinson and The Opera Circuit maybe a little rougher around the edges than it predecessor, but it’s heart is definitely stronger and more honest.
Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit track list:
1. Seems Almost Impossible
2. Diggin a Grave
4. It’s Been So Long
5. Drift Off to Sleep
6. Letter from Huntsville
7. She Don’t Own Me
8. My Time Wasted
9. Little Boys Dream
10. You’re Only Lonely
11. Don’t Leave Me Now!
Micah P. Hinson Tour Dates
All shows with David Bazan
Wed July 19: Portland, OR Doug Fir
Thu July 20: Eugene, OR WOW Hall
Fri July 21 Chico, CA Market Cafe
Sat July 22 Modesto, CA Xclamation Festival
Sun July 23 Pomona, CA Glass House
Mon July 24 San Diego, CA The Casbah
Tue July 25 Los Angeles, CA Tangiers
Thu July 27 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
Sat July 29 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern