Micah P. Hinson – I Lie To You (Ponderosa)

Micah P. Hinson returns from lockdown with a beautifully nuanced album recorded in just five days in the south of Italy.

“Born into a strict fundamentalist Christian household and raised in evangelist Abilene, Texas” seems to be how most write-ups describe Mr. Hinson.

I was first introduced to him in 2005 when he was in Auckland promoting his debut album, The Gospel Of Progress, and, indeed, he seemed to have progressed from “evangelist Abilene” to the more liberal-thinking scene in Denton home of Norah Jones, Midlake and, um…Don Henley.

At that point, Micah had quite a past…jail, bankruptcy, drug addiction…and quite a future…rave reviews, an on-stage marriage proposal, a serious car crash and rather dubious comments about President Barak Obama, referring to the then-president as “the murderer of the American Dream” back in 2010.

Like all of us, Micah has gone through some changes over the years, and just as the pandemic hit he was considering throwing in the towel as far as music was concerned, having written and recorded about 14 albums with varying degrees of un-success, at least in the popularity and monetary department.

And like many of us, Micah took time to reflect and plan his future. In doing so, ‘He vowed from then on to only write about things happening in the present, but first wanted to gain closure by reworking and recording all of the remaining songs he saved over the last 25 years.’

That closure is what I Lie To You is all about.

The album consists of 10 tracks…seven originals and three covers…written over the past 20 years and recorded in those 5 days in Irpinia, Italy.

And though recorded in Italy with an Italian group of producers and musicians, the result sounds like something straight out of Texas.

Hinson has employed Alessandro “Asso” Stefana (PJ Harvey/Mike Patton) as producer and multi-instrumentalist and Asso proves to be the ‘secret sauce’ that holds this album together…not to take anything away from Hinson and his songs.

Asso’s use of Raffaele Tiseo’s celestial strings along with the spare playing of drummer Zeno De Rossi and double bassist Greg Cohen set the perfect tone and timbre for Hinson’s tunes.

Up first is Ignore The Days, a gentle folk song and newest tune from Hinson’s attic, it’s a lovely song of loss and heartbreak featuring Asso’s banjo. Similarly, Walking On Eggshells sounds like another wounded love song (think Justin Townes Earle) but just as the listener is lulled into a state of relaxation, we hear the lyric, ‘give me a pistol, I’ll blow out your brains, give me that shotgun, the blood will be the same’.

And there you have it…these are the demons Hinson is exorcizing so he can move on to the next phase of his musical career.

And what of the covers chosen here?

Well, Please Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas is sure to be a fave around the mistletoe (written by the same good people who brought you Take Me Home, Country Roads and Afternoon Delight).  Then there is People (not Streisand’s) but David Bazan of Pedro The Lion), a nostalgic tune about when “people loving people was the norm” and sung in a fragile, shaky voice.

Finally, there is Micah’s version of the folk standard 500 Miles to close out the record. Normally, I would dismiss this a filler, as its been done to death, but I must say, Micah adds a new gravitas to the old warhorse making it sound heartbreakingly (and surprisingly) fresh.

If this is a collection of Micah’s leftovers, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with now that he has purged these little gems from his system.

I’ll be watching…and listening. Would I Lie To You?

Marty Duda

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