Clint Michigan deals almost exclusively in heartache. The eleven songs that make up the band's full-length debut tackle the time-worn subject from a variety of guises—from imaginary love songs to aching lament. Hawthorne to Hennepin plays like a record almost lost in time—a plaintive, country-folk confection that displays the kind of restrained musicianship and impeccable songwriting rarely seen in contemporary music, let alone on a debut album.
Clint Michigan is the brainchild of Clint Asay, an NYC by way of Portland transplant who spent the last few years toiling in various downtown musical acts before finally landing on the project that would provide the perfect vehicle for his songs. "I've never actually finished a record," Asay laughs, "I've started about six of them, but this was the first time that everything finally came together in the right way." With a handful of songs under his belt, it was ultimately a chance meeting with Amy Bezunartea in 2006 that would provide the impetus for finally getting Clint Michigan off the ground. "Someone gave me her demo," says Asay "I knew immediately that I had to meet her. She and I have never had an argument about anything musical. We always seem to want exactly the same thing. There's something really magical that happens when we sing together."
Hawthorne to Hennepin represents a musical coming of age for Asay. With songs that document the songwriters own struggles with love, sobriety, and the death of his younger brother, the album takes turns both sweet and harrowing. ("We jokingly refer to our music as ‘journal rock' " jokes Asay.) Songs like "Be My Man" and "Bedridden" plumb the depths of romantic longing, while the band's sweeter than sweet cover of "Act Naturally" (made famous by Buck Owens in 1963) is buoyed by the almost effortless harmony of Asay and Bezunartea's voices. Recorded over the course of a year and half, the album includes contributions from other NYC musicians such as Pinky Weitzman, Mason Brown, Kenny Mellman, Sam Lazzara, Toby Goodshank, Scott Matthew, Larry Krone, and Jim Andralis, Kendall Jane Meade, and Kate Perrotti.
"The record is kind of a journey, both musically and personally," says Asay. "I've never been this happy with anything that I've made. I'm also really excited to see what Amy and I can do next."
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"Asay’s lyrics read like postcards from various points on the road to and from recovery, and references to real landmarks in Minneapolis, New York, and Oregon anchor the album in the real world."
Time Out New York - Excellent feature story by Beth Greenfield.
"Throughout the record the pair’s strength seems to be the same one that strikes you in the live setting: Its voices, brought together by happenstance, are simply perfect together."