Hiss Golden Messenger - Heart Like A Levee LP


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Label: Merge

Our Review:

M.C. Taylor has quietly been one of the best songwriters America has had on offer for the better part of 2 decades, first with the criminally under-appreciated San Francisco concern, The Court & Spark – whose 4 albums are all worth seeking out and in toto should not cost the listener more than a couple hours wages to acquire – and, for the last 8 years under the name of Hiss Golden Messenger, a group he began with his Court & Spark compatriot, Scott Hirsch, but in which Taylor has been the only constant. With Heart Like A Levee Taylor continues to mine a vein of Americana previously hit by such prospectors as Dylan, Petty, Morrison, and The Dead, fortunately Taylor displays enough songwriting prowess and lyrical strength to still come up with gold.

Heart Like A Levee finds Taylor a fully matured songwriter and recording artist, much like, say, the 90s work of Dylan and Petty, as compared to the rawer work of their previous decades. This album is far more Wildflowers than Another Side Of Bob Dylan, with crisp, clean guitars, muted horns, and everything just so. For a more contemporary comparison, Hiss Golden Messenger's latest has a lot in common with Cass McCombs' latest, showing affection for the cleaner, more focused sounds of the 70s than the raw immature emotion of the 60s. None of this is to say the new record is overproduced, it is just impeccably produced, and should garner comparisons to everything from Tupelo Honey to Primrose Green. In fact, with his somewhat recent ascendancy into the indie-rock spotlight, one could reasonably lump Hiss Golden Messenger into the current wave of nouveau Americana songwriters such as Ryley Walker, and the like if it weren't for the fact that M.C. Taylor has been confidently navigating this sort of pastoral melancholy territory since those dudes were sneaking smokes out back of the auditorium between 5th and 6th period.