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August 31, 2006

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No pain, no gain.

Some guys have all the luck, some guys have all the pain. While most of us just pick our way through the kind of varied fortunes that might stop you dead in your tracks if you gave them any thought. After years of wayward behaviour - drugs, jail and general carousing - Texan singer/songwriter Micah P. Hinson struck lucky with The Gospel Of Progress, a wise-beyond-its-years collection of campfire ballads and homely acoustic tales. Great critical notices followed for this rakish young man with a fondness for prescription drugs.

Ironically, having kicked his early addiction to Xanax, Codeine and Soma, a severe back injury sustained while play-fighting with friends saw Hinson doped up on the same meds he’d previously been taking, just to be able to tour. Says the singer, “I had to get back on the horse and ride it again. It was like having to share a bed again with an ancient, ugly lover”.

Aggravating his back injury whilst on the road, Hinson was hospitalised immediately on his return to Texas. In crippling pain he endured all the ignominious apparatus of the infirm: shower stool, corset, walker. A young man in an old man’s situation. Unable to do anything but stare at the ceiling, he began writing songs.

Expectedly, the resultant second album, Micah P. Hinson And The Opera Circuit, is largely a rumination on loss and the vicissitudes of fortune. It’s the kind of album one might write whilst recuperating and talking familiar nonsense with friends. The Opera Circuit players travelled from around the world to record their parts sitting round a frequently bedbound Hinson, who calls the record “a victory over hardship and compromise”.

Tracks like the bittersweet She Don’t Own Me, or the red-eyed closer Don’t Leave Me Now prompt the kind of homespun wisdom about silver linings and darkest hours before dawn. Or, as they say in Texas, “Nothin’ dries as quick as a tear."


James Cowdery