By Micah P Hinson
With a history that includes painkiller addiction, forged prescriptions, loss of all possessions and a jail sentence you could say this 27 year-old Texan musician shares more than a just a passing musical connection with the late Johnny Cash.
Refreshingly, Micah P Hinson's third album (produced by John Congleton of Antony & The Johnsons, Explosions In The Sky and Black Mountain fame) seems to build on the solid country-folk foundations set by his contemporaries... lush orchestrated backdrops and contemporary-sounding guitar arrangements add a sense of visionary splendour to Hinson's rough whiskey-voiced tales.
Lyrically, Micah P Hinson pens feelings of pain, fear and regret (and somewhat more optimistically) love and self-realisation. In the stunning waltz signature highlight 'Tell Me Ain't So', the powerful chorus: "Constantly craving what isn't mine..." details a once regrettable urge to follow an unrewarding path. Other highpoints include the beautiful strings and a wondrous blend of distorted and shimmering guitar in 'Sunrise Over The Olympus Mons' and the brooding, sorrowful strings and fearful baritone in 'Dyin Alone' provide a heart-felt and beautiful (albeit downbeat) album closer.
In the end, Micah P Hinson And The Red Empire Orchestra is a rich, beautiful and consistent album with a massive sense of grandeur. It's a fine achievement from a man who seems to be leaving his chequered history well and truly in the past.