Record Review: “Engines of Commotion”

by Dave Carew

American folk music has a pure, evocative beauty rarely heard or felt in other art forms. It is a music that can summon to the heart and mind the most gorgeous parts of nature; the deepest, richest, most enduring elements of humanity. If you’re nodding your head yes as you read this—if you appreciate the rare ethereal power and beauty of our nation’s folk music—you have a treat in store: a record entitled Engines of Commotion.

Recorded in a single day in 2010, Engines of Commotion (also the name of the band) is an outstanding collection of vocal and instrumental folk/Americana numbers in the tradition of artists such as Gillian Welch, Doc Watson, and Nickel Creek. Quietly yet passionately fueled by stellar mandolin, banjo, guitar, and fiddle work, Engines of Commotion drifts beautifully and confidently from the Avett Brothers-like pathos of lead singer Michael Hinckley’s “Never Say Goodbye” to Hinckley’s hip-yet-19th century-sounding instrumental “The Cooper’s Daughter” to the timelessness of the one non-original song on the album, Doc Watson’s and Rosa Lee Watson’s “Your Long Journey.” Throughout the record, these gems are rendered with a loving artfulness that speaks of deep devotion to this most mystical of American musical expressions.

In an informal conversation with Underground Nashville, Michael Hinckley said Engines of Commotion’s members now are scattered to the winds (some in New York, some in Nashville, some elsewhere) and don’t regularly perform together. That’s a pity.  If Engines of Commotion is an indication of what this gifted collection of musicians can render, anyone who cares about folk and Americana music would welcome a second helping.

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.


Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit  Please also consider coming to ParkLife, the benefit concert for Lambscroft, to be held in Sevier Park in 12South on Saturday, August 18. Thank you.


Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew



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