I remember when I heard my first Micah song – the gorgeous, downbeat country gospel of The Day Texas Sank Into The Sea, a couple of years ago on Sean Rowley’s old late night show on BBC London. It made me want to find out more about this mysterious, Biblically-named character. That summer I was pleased to find him supporting Joanna Newsom at the 12-Bar Club, though surprisingly he seemed nervous. He also looked quite young, and not the grizzled old man his voice suggested. I later found out he was only 22.
Later in 2004, I saw Micah again, this time supporting his pals The Earlies at the Scala. Although supporting is a funny word to use, as most of The Earlies were his backing band. It was revelatory. He had been transformed into a country rock star, even if a reluctant one. It’s still one of my top gigs of recent years.
That year his Earlies-produced album Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress was released and it was (and still is) a classic of beautiful, broken ballads, tough waltzes and acoustic rock-outs . It’s not only his vocals that bely his years, his lyrics do too. How to cram such a lifetime’s experience of love, loss, pain and adventure into such a short life? It was one of my albums of the year, and a few others’ too (No.5 in the Rough Trade 2004 chart).
Then last year it seemed to go a bit quiet. Sure, I picked up a copy of his re-recorded and re-released debut album The Baby and the Satellite, which is a more lo-fi affair. Pretty good, but not as glorious as ...the Gospel of Progress. There may have been gigs, but either I wasn’t looking or there weren’t very many.
So I was delighted to see he was supporting Richard Hawley at his Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig last week. And he didn’t disappoint. It’s the most stripped down I’ve seen him – just Micah, a guitar and a guy providing sound effects and harmonica. He sang songs from his two albums – gutsy, heartfelt and soulful. All beautiful. In the end it was too short. The other support (dull, meat and potatoes indie rockers Palace Fires) seemed to have over-run, and Micah couldn’t. Still, we got treated to some new songs, which bode well for the new album, which according to his record company will be out in September. I can’t wait. It’s time to fall in love again…
From The Baby and the Satellite (Buy it)
Download: Micah P Hinson - For Your Eyes
From Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress (Buy it)
Download: Micah P Hinson - Don't You (part 1 & 2)
Download: Micah P Hinson - The Day Texas Sank to the Bottom of the Sea
A couple more photos on my Flickr page