Written By: Filip Teovanovic
Originality: (5.0 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4.0 / 5) Lyrics: (5.0 / 5) Production: (4.0 / 5) Average: (4.5 / 5)
If you think your teenage years were a turmoil, just wait until you read about this artist. Before he turned 20, Micah P. Hinson experienced series of unfortunate events. He was a heroin addict, he ended up in jail, went through a bankruptcy and lived on the street. The only thing giving him life was local music scene in Abilene, Texas. From the moment he started working on his debut Micah P Hinson and the Gospel of Progress in 2003, his life embarked on a new, creative ship. Everything went upwards for Micah, both professionally and privately, all the way to the moment when he almost died in a car accident at the end of the decade.
This incident forced him to observe his music with fresh eyes, and the result of such shifted observation was his intimate and critically praised record Micah P Hinson and the Nothing that came out three years ago. Although he was neglected by certain left-wing media due to his conservative attitudes and pukes on Obama, that didn’t hinder Hinson to keep on singing his song. The result of his grit is a great new album.
According to the author, The Holy Strangers is a modern folk opera, and I find it to be a clear-cut description of vastly conceptual album that crossed over the boundaries of genre. Downtempo melancholic instrumental “The Temptation” opens the album and sets the base which will be used by Hinson for morose, baritone-driven portrayal of love, family, life and death. In “The Great Void”, he sings about growing pains, while spooky guitar and eerie violin follow his narrative in the background, creating a malicious atmosphere that is about to overtake every tone. Every other song has a semi-distinct faculty. “Lover’s Lane” resembles Johnny Cash, while “Oh, Spaceman!” is like a street performance of a hungry hobo. Turning point is manifested in seven minute long confessional sermon “Micah Book One” that seems like a page ripped from the Old Testament. Here we can witness Micah’s confrontation with his inner conservative demons that were born and raised in his fundamentally Christian family. Thanks to the analog recording, the authentic quality of dusty Americana haunts you long after the record is done playing.
Although this record is not as personal as its predecessor, cross-examination often turns to introspection. The presence of hair-raising instrumentals gives the whole record a movie-like effect. “The Years Tire On” is a perfect example for this, plus it is supported by orchestra and church choir. Another standout comes in the shape of mono-tonal piano number “The War” that transposes you directly to the craziest battlefield (mentally, ofc). The album closes with “Come By Here”, a dark prayer for salvation that comes right after the anti-climax dark vision “The Lady From Abilene”.