Micah P. Hinson's debut album is full of lovely, haunting sounds you'd expect from a band of ghosts. After all, the Abilene singer-songwriter overcame drug addiction, poverty and homelessness while writing The Gospel of Progress, and the 13 songs, full of sadness and reflection, sound like he really did walk among the dead. Half-Texan, half-British band The Earlies support Gospel with appropriate sounds for Hinson's half-folk, half-rock songs--organ notes and light piano melodies add to quieter numbers, while Hinson's emotional outbursts, particularly in "At Last, Our Promises," soar with percussion, strings and a harmonica played from the bowels of hell. But this album is all about Hinson's remarkable voice. Lyrics sound like he's reading from a diary, as he repeats declarations like "There are things that I say/That don't mean a thing anyway" and "Close your eyes and don't you make a sound/There's no one else around." With any other singer, these repetitive songs would get boring, but Hinson's gravelly, Will Oldham-like delivery grows more imposing with every repeat. A 24-year-old with a world-weary voice like this? Now that's downright spooky.
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