The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, November 3, 2006, Music

Micah P. Hinson

Micah P. Hinson and the Opera Circuit (Jade Tree)

A former skate punk raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, Micah P. Hinson was touched early in life. Briefly paralyzed last year, MPH's subsequent back surgery left him dependent for a time on a psychotropic cocktail of codeine, Soma, Xanax, and Neurontin. Fortunately, the 24-year-old's slow recovery in his hometown of Abilene came with friendlier aid from musicians recruited to record there, including Crooked Fingers' Eric Bachmann. True to its title then, this follow-up to 2004's Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress is part joyful, orchestral pop and part isolated, window-framed Americana. Hinson sounds a lot like Smog's Bill Callahan on opener "Seems Almost Impossible," and the lonely "Drift Off to Sleep" is lovely in its altered state. Confessional romp "Letter From Huntsville" is blunt and wrenching: "My back hurt so bad, but I'll get to California someday." Long, dusty walk through strings and horns "Little Boys Dream" contrasts "You're Only Lonely," whose buildup and release could fuel an 18-wheeler. Not every song hits its mark, and Hinson's monotone often grates, but as dark as his recovery might have been, Opera Circuit doesn't mope or whine. He just happens to be in bed with the subject.


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