Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two welcome returns


Today I’m celebrating two welcome comebacks. One is a Brit who’s had a sojourn in the American south and is now returning home. The other is a guy from the American south who’s been the in the UK for a while and has now headed back to Texas.

These people are of course Cerys Matthews and Micah P Hinson. No prizes for guessing.

First up, is the former singer of Welsh band Catatonia, whose tales of drink, drugs and generally falling off the wagon were legendary among the fading embers of Britpop in the late 90s. Then she disappeared, only to crop up in Nashville in 2003, married, living in the backwoods and about to pop a sprog. At the same time, she released her debut solo album Cockahoop, full of country folky delights – some covers and a few of her own compositions (including Chardonnay – a wry look back at her past life).

Well, now she’s back again. And if the last time was slightly low-key, this time she’s announcing it a wee bit louder. She’s been all over the British papers that used to be called broadsheets at the weekend, recalling her life in Catatonia, Tennesse and why she’s moving back to Wales with her husband and two kids. You can read all about it in the Guardian, the Independent and the Observer at least.

The new album? There’s a track – Morning Sunshine – from it being put out as a taster. After a few listens, I think I like it. It’s certainly striking out in a slightly poppier direction, which she readily admits to in the interview(s). Maybe this is the album that’ll make her a famous singer-songwriter in her own right. Here’s Morning Sunshine, and just to remember, a couple of tracks from Cockahoop. The one with the funny name is her version of an old Welsh hymn.

Download: Cerys Matthews – Morning Sunshine
Download: Cerys Matthews – If You’re Looking For Love
Download: Cerys Matthews – Arglwydd Dyma Fi

Buy Cockahoop or pre-order Never Said Goodbye (why does Amazon have the Hal album cover here? Bizarre.)

The second comeback is from gruff-voiced young Texan Micah Paul Hinson, whom I’ve proclaimed love for previously on this blog. It transpires (according to Pitchfork) that he’s had serious problems with his back as a result of some friend ‘joking around’, and he’s gone back to The States for a operation. He’s touring there as well, in advance of his new album Micah P Hinson and the Opera Circuit. What’s in a name? How does that differ in style and substance from 2004 debut Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress? It won't be entirely clear until I hear more from the album, and I’m reserving judgement until then.

The track Jackeyed has been put out as a taster, and it’s certainly a bit of a departure from his previous stuff. Where that was gritty, rough-cut and soulful, this is a bit more polished. The soul here is supplied by a big string sound and horns, which is fine to an extent (Lambchop do that thing nicely), but what’s that slightly dodgy sax solo coming in near the end? The jury’s still out on this one. I’m hoping that any ‘departure’ in his sound is going to be a good thing. He doesn’t seem to have his mates The Earlies on production duties here. Anyway, you can make your own mind up – here’s Jackeyed. And Stand in Your Way from ‘…the Gospel of Progress’.

Download: Micah P Hinson – Jackeyed
Download: Micah P Hinson – Stand in My Way

Buy The Gospel of Progress or The Baby and the Satellite

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