By Micah P Hinson
This guy sounds way beyond his years. Hinson's rich, bottomless baritone buffets and massages around your ears like a beyond-the-grave Johnny Cash. Barely a song in and you're already lulled into this gothic mahogany, fireside stupor. The tone is set out for the duration; it's a demanding, heavy hearted listen that doesn't let up on the gloom factor.
Leaning on cinematic tone, this album bestrides the spaces between many American songwriters, not least Cash as we've already chalked up, and perhaps Roy Orbison. The grandiose orchestral backing might be a little Arcade Fire for you most discerning of lesser known indie consumers, but this is almost redeemed by the fact that much of this album comes over like Modest Mouse tackling a Western film score.
The songs are direct and dispensed with some mean tenacity, which might seem at odds with the ethereal stringed nature of the music, somehow making for a dour and chilling experience. Straight forward songs are blown up to gargantuan proportions with the weighty production, and on the more solitary numbers he retains a hazy, personal soft focus that gently takes a hold. When he needs to be chaotic, there's the percussive mechanical background pollution that Tom Waits dances to. Hinson is more than adept at some austere romance in that world weary brogue peculiar to the melancholic country stars. 'Sweetness' is his most prominent stab at this, trawling the very bottom of his mournful moods.
Elsewhere we get the ominous daddy done gone story which gives a bleak prognosis and Hinson cuts a shadowy, forlorn figure who could be at least twice his actual age.
Among the standard selection of scoundrels, cheats and deadbeats, a stream of religion and retribution courses through the album. It's an edgier affair than many of his country muses might have offered, and there's not much let up on the troubled road of the Pioneer Saboteurs but I've found myself enjoying this album more as it trundles along, a grower for sure.