REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

More Cash + Orbison x Leonard Cohen from troubled troubadour Micah P. Hinson

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Like those that precede it, Micah P. Hinson’s’ 5th album proper flits between genres with frustratingly uneven success


 Micah P. Hinson - Micah P. Hinson and the Nothing (OUT 10TH MARCH)

Micah P. Hinson first swaggered into town back in 2004 with a backstory that was a lazy scribe's dream (homeless and drug dependent having been disowned by his Christian fundamentalist family after running off with a supermodel no less…) and a stellar debut album to boot -
‘Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress’ – which was full of gothic country folk tales delivered with improbably deep and tortured tones. In the years since, Hinson has gone on to release another five albums that have never veered wildly from the blueprint then established but have also never surpassed such an assured opening statement. Each release has certainly contained moments of spine-tingle sure, but he’s also had a frustrating habit of veering between genres from the more compelling stark confessionals of his debut to relatively standard full-band country fare and in doing so never quite delivered anything as rounded and cohesive again. This, his first album in almost four years following a car accident that nearly lost him use of his arms (more fodder for the back story...), remains true to that form and as such, is both a blessing and a curse. Opening with a punk-rock squall of ferociously scrappy guitar thrash and propulsive drums
(‘How Are You, Just A Dream’) the album continues with
‘Be My Baby’-esque 50s diner jukebox ballads (
‘On The Way Home (To Abilene)’ and the Orbison-aping
‘God Is Good’), swooning waltzes (
‘The One To Save You Now’) and traditional country (the rollickin’ hillbilly dueling banjo and guitar of ‘
There’s Only One Name’ or the pedal steel plod of
‘The Life, Living, Death and Dying’). He remains a captivatingly singular voice in spite of that erraticism though and at its undoubtedly lofty peaks
‘…and the Nothing’ contains moments that are up there with his finest. These tend to be when he’s shorn of the standard country arrangements that otherwise somewhat pervade. The desolate intimacy of the vocals and hesitant piano of 
‘I Ain’t Movin’’ and its companion piece
‘The Quill’ where the simple and uncertain piano motif barely anchors the vocal fragility of a desperate, haunted Hinson (
"I'll keep the gun cocked, keep the pine chair, still thinking o' ways that you'll come back and kill me") are both a welcome reminder of Hinson at his most affecting and distinct. Similarly, closing track
‘A Million Light Years (Ghost Track)’ rides the beautiful, sparser end of the spectrum as Hinson reminds us of the simple pleasure of
that voice and guitar, much in the way he did on the collection of his early recordings
‘The Baby and the Satellite’, before several minutes of silence precede a hidden, macabre tale of darkly somber piano and strings and layered voices built around the wonderful refrain
"I am no slave to the words I write my love". So, inconsistent it may be, but at times 
‘Micah P. Hinson and the Nothing’ is startling enough to more than warrant the ear-time.