By Julijana Capone
CALGARY – Poor Mic’s Toe, the debut full-length record from Micah Erenberg, is a captivating, free-flowing listen that showcases the bedroom folk singer-songwriter’s knack for narrative storytelling—and he’s got quite the stories to tell.
The spirited roots rambler “Morphine,” for example, recounts a lawnmower accident, which resulted in the loss of half of Erenberg’s toe when he was 12-years-old (see: the album’s cover art for a photo of said half toe), and his thirst for “medical grade shit” after getting his first taste of the pain medication.
“Won’t you please, please, please, please, please, please, please gimme more, more, more, more, more morphine,” he joyously stutters on the song.
“The song is definitely a dramatization,” Erenberg says with a laugh. “For the most part, I’m pretty straight and narrow. I don’t even smoke pot, really.”
While Poor Mic’s Toe was mostly home-recorded by Erenberg, a slew of Manitoba musicians also lent a hand, including The Crooked Brothers’ Darwin Baker and Matt Foster, who assisted with engineering and production, along with drummer Dan Bertnick, and bassist Matt Filopoulos, among many others.
Homeschooled until Grade 10 in the town of Matlock, Manitoba (about an hour drive north of Winnipeg), songwriting always seemed to come naturally to the now 24-year-old multi-instrumentalist. Releasing EPs and demos since he was a teenager, a few of the songs on the record were written when he was still in high school.
“I spent a lot of time alone, writing and making music,” he says.
Among his older tracks, “I Just Wanna Go to Sleep Forever,” was written in 2009, and is an early indication of Erenberg’s love for making sad songs with happy feels and all-around quirky sensibilities.
“A lot of the music I’m into is kind of depressing, like Townes Van Zandt or Elliot Smith,” he admits. “There’s something you get out of sad lyrics that can be uplifting.”
Meanwhile, on the strangely unforgettable “Call of the North,” Erenberg sings about a wild childhood friend who became an unlikely hero, saving a woman from a random battery acid attack at a club in Toronto.
“My friend is kind of a genius,” Erenberg says.
“He knew that if you take baking soda and water it neutralizes acid burns…Here’s this guy that’s not one for first impressions, and his first impression with this lady was saving her life. Then, a few weeks after this happened, he got into a snowmobile accident where his sled got totally destroyed. He should have gotten hurt very badly, but he came out of it completely unharmed.”
If that story of twisted fate wasn’t enough, there’s even more tales to come from the half toe raconteur. Aside from his new record and upcoming tour, Erenberg says new material is in the works. While Poor Mic’s Toe featured some revelry in the gloom, the next one, he assures, will go in a heavier direction with feels to match. Whatever the vibe, you’ll want to tune in.
Micah Erenberg performs May 19 at Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club (Winnipeg), May 21 at the Capitol Music Club (Saskatoon), May 22 at The Buckingham (Edmonton), May 25 at The Palomino Smokehouse (Calgary), June 10 at The Sewing Machine Factory (Edmonton), and June 13 at Bo’s Bar & Grill (Red Deer). To purchase Micah Erenberg’s latest album, Poor Mic’s Toe, visit micaherenberg.bandcamp.com.Bo’s Bar & Grill, Capitol Music Club, Micah Erenberg, Poor Mic’s Toe, The Buckingham, The Palomino Smokehouse, The Sewing Machine Factory, Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club