The story of Micah P. Hinson has been mentioned in just about every single review written to date about his work (including mine for his debut full length And The Gospel Of Progress), and it's for good reason. Only in his mid 20s, Hinson has seen his fair share of ups and downs in his life already that certainly contributes to his musical creation and lyrical content. Being the young boyfriend of a drug-addict supermodel and finding yourself arrested, in jail, and subsequently homeless all before the age of 20 will probably do that to a person.
At any rate, And The Opera Circuit is the second full length release from Hinson and his merry band of musicians and it continues basically right where his first disc left off. Hinson is still front and center with his world-weary, baritone croon while the music behind him is a well crafted batch of country-tinged instrumentation with dips towards everything from full-on rock workouts to weepy, string-drenched ballads. For some reason, the release feels more inconsistent than his debut, and it's hard to put a finger on why.
While the variety of sounds on the release keeps things interesting for awhile, the release seems to lose a bit of steam about halfway through. Early on, "Digging A Grave" fires things up with a rollicking hoe-down and "Jackeyed" may very well be one of the best tracks that Hinson has ever done. With banjo, some soaring horn, organs, and some lovely, gradual swells, the track is a perfect highlight of his slightly rough voice and some unique backing music. From there, things take a definite turn, and it deflates some of the promise of the release (although the huge ending of "Letter To Huntsville" provides a welcome burst). Tracks like the string and guitar based "It's Been So Long," Drift Off To Sleep," and "She Don't Own Me" all sort of fall back on somewhat syrupy string arrangements that don't offer up nearly as much excitement as other tracks on the release.
More invigorating are songs like the nearly six minute "You're Only Lonely," which builds from a somewhat rough-sounding in-studio sort of feel into a huge, sprawling track that simply rocks on full out and doesn't look back. Then again, the album ends with "Don't Leave Me Now," a five and a half minute piano and noise collage that doesn't really add anything to the release. At times enjoyable, at other times somewhat bland, And The Opera Circuit is a somewhat inconsistent follow-up release from the young artist.