by Ryan Casey
It is always heart-warming to hear stories of musicians finally receiving their just rewards after a lifetime of perseverance. For the Georgia-state born Young Hines (yes, that is his real name), his turning point arrived when, after spending several years making demos and sharing them on Myspace and Facebook, a little miracle occurred in the form of Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs stumbling upon his work. A few short years later, Young Hines is releasing his Benson produced debut-album, Give Me My Change, on Benson’s very own record label, Readymade Records, following a successful tour opening for Benson’s Raconteurs. It would be safe to say that Hines has acquired a very worthwhile friend, and fan, that’s for sure.
This is certainly not without reason, though. Give Me My Change is a treasure-chest of an album, boasting thirteen tracks that vary vastly in style. The harsh and cynical amongst us will argue that the album lacks coherence, which is true, but in this case, such a lack of direction works immensely in its favour. There is quite literally something unexpected at every turn, right from the transition between the bluesy opener, ‘Young Again’, and the exploding guitars of the follow-up title track, Hines shouting at the audience to ‘Give me my fucking change’. This is just one example amongst many: ‘I Ask This of You’ finds Young Hines come close to a pop-song, with a bassline that would not find itself out of place on a Michael Jackson record. ‘Just Say No (Sometimes)’, on the other hand, boasts the cheesy optimism of some of The Beatles’ works. This collage of styles is rather refreshing, and showcases Hines’ ability to switch between style seamlessly.
However, the album is at its best when Young Hines is at his heaviest. It may sound like a simple pleasure, but when The Black Keys-esque ‘Hold You and Scold You’, an album highlight, progresses from subtle openings to an explosion of vocals, the listener gets a real sense of the sheer range of Hines’ voice. The juxtaposition of lyrics and sound on ‘Can’t Explode’ is another stunning example of Hines’ qualities when he ‘gets heavy’, the guitar driven verse giving way to an exploding chorus of vocals and instruments. It really is one of the album’s finest moments.
If there are any criticisms of Give Me My Change, it would be that there isn’t quite enough of this explosive spontaneity, but then again, it does force the listener to savour these tracks all the more when they do come around, not to mention surprise they deliver on the first few listens. It will certainly be interesting to see where Hines goes from here: whether he will continue to attempt to experiment by converging genre, or use this palette of an album to paint a more focused future release.
Closing track, ‘Forever Young’, is likely to become a fan favourite with its uplifting simplicity, but it feels something of a forced closer. ‘Lost in the Mix’ would have been much more fitting, with just an acoustic guitar to accompany Young’s relevant lyrics, ‘I wanna do it over take me back to the start’. It sounds profoundly indicative of the closing stages of an album, but then again, as fitting as it would be, perhaps this was Young Hines’ plan all along: to lull the listener into yet another false sense of security before pulling the rug from under their feet.
On a whole, Give Me My Change is a strong debut release that really exemplifies the broad range of its creator. Although the juxtaposition of styles can become somewhat tiring, Young Hines has created an album destined to boast a wealth of replay value, and certainly leaves the audience lost in a maze of styles. And what a pleasurable maze it is to be stuck in.