Hiss Golden Messenger features M.C. Taylor and Scott Hirsh from the ruins of San Francisco band The Court & Spark who disbanded in 2007. They have recorded a range of albums which improve on every outing ploughing deeply into a laudable tradition of Americana. This draws on multiple sources not least one part of Little Feat, a shot of Steely Dan and Traffic, a smattering of Grateful Dead and a good old dollop of Lampchop. Having reviewed 2011's excellent "From Country Hai East Cotton" it is pleasing to report an even more consistent recording with "Haw". The presence of rising stars of the alt country scene in the USA such as William Tyler, Bowerbirds, Megafaun and Black Twig Pickers on the record add to this musical chemistry and widen the bands musical parameters. All in all it makes this record a very satisfying if not stunningly original listening experience.
The songs are well constructed and whittle away at your sensibilities on repeated listens until you find yourself singing the lines and pressing the repeat button. The excellent "Sufferer (Love My Conqueror)"s is such a beast, with a nasty groove in the background underpinning a spiritual country song that screams class. The pure country of "I've Got a Name for the Newborn Child" has a nice flat-picking guitar accompaniment and rolls along sweetily. More desolate is the blues hymn "Devotion" which has echoes of Neil Young and a melody so haunting you should call Ghostbusters. Perhaps the best thing on here comes mid point in the acoustic wonder that is the intriguingly titled "The Serpent is kind (Compared to man)" which owes a clear debt to the deceptively rustic simplicity of the Band. The Irish style jaunt and a dog barking that commences "Hark Marker (glory rag)" signasl a nice if rather unessential instrumental. Much better is the albums longest song the slow burning "Cheerwine Easter" easily the best composition on the album that showcases Taylor's warm vocals and meticulous songwriting craft. It should soundtrack woozy evenings infused with too much wine when the haunting horn solo will sound like it is touched by the angels. There are a couple of missteps not least "Busted note" that perhaps strays a bit too much into Tom Petty territory although the backing vocals are a thing of beauty. To some "Haw" may sound a bit complacent. But were you to substitute that word with "effortless" this would serve better and properly recognise that "Haw" is a album packed with southern country charm, albeit one that certainly is devoid of gritty realism but makes it up for this with warm pastoral shades and bright sunlight.
on 19 June 2015
Genre-crossing, and hard to define, but simply superb music and musicianship on display here. Americana, country, bluesy, maybe even 70s country-rock, but plainly just good to listen to, over and over again !
Buy and enjoy
on 6 August 2013
One of the best albums of the year in any genre. As one previous reviewer has said, there is something authentic and classy about this album. If you like alt-country, Americana, folk or just great songwriting, please check this one out.