The new record from Micah P. Hinson has been described by the Americana musician as a “modern folk opera”. The Holy Strangers was written and recorded in Denison, Texas using analogue equipment. It is an epic double LP consisting of 14 tracks that take the listener on a journey, telling the story of a family and the troubles they encounter during a horrific and tragic war. The album is released in the UK by Full Time Hobby Records (with early pressings featuring a book to accompany the record) and is the singer-songwriter’s most ambitious album to date.
Opening track The Temptation is an instrumental and subtle introduction to the record. It sets the emotional tone of The Holy Strangers and leads the listener into the tragic and complicated world that is presented. Second track The Great Void is more familiar territory for Micah P. Hinson fans, where the singer’s brittle and drawling voice narrates over a slow-paced jangling guitar. The song builds and builds and the fact that reel-to-reel recording techniques were employed gives the track an earthy and tangible feel. Throughout the record Hinson’s voice is given space to breathe, where the evocative lyrics seep into the brain of the listener and the complexities of the story are presented in an intimate and personal tone.
Lover’s Lane is a Johnny Cash inspired song that tells the tale of the meeting of two young lovers, which leads on nicely to The Years Tire On. This is another epic instrumental track, which highlights that the emotional tone of The Holy Strangers is sometimes best conveyed when the voice of the narrator is absent. Micah Book One takes a different approach and is a spoken word track where words are very much the driving force. This is the central point of the record and marks a distinct turning point. Religious imagery is evoked through the discussion of power and justice in the confident and direct delivery of a preacher.
From here we are presented with The War, another instrumental track filled with tension and anxiety. Hinson’s distinctive voice is absent and we are definitely very far from the jaunty nature of Lover’s Lane. The record closes with Come By Here. This is an otherworldly gospel-like closer and feels like a prayer for the characters we have encountered during the monumental journey of the record.
Micah P. Hinson Presents The Holy Strangers is an emotional journey and an epic record that flows with imagination and imagery. “Modern folk opera” is an apt description and helps convey the ambition and grand nature of the double album. The Holy Strangers is available now on Full Time Hobby Records on CD, vinyl and digital download. Hinson is performing at Broadcast in Glasgow on 19 September and will be at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh the following evening.