Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like A Levee (album review)

by Woody on October 11, 2016


I rarely listen to regular radio because for the most part, it sucks*. But when I do listen to music it winds up being XRT here in Chicago. But that station has become so crappy lately as it is an adult contemporary station. They must play that X Ambassadors song or Kids by MGMT almost every hour as if adults can’t handle anything they’re not familiar with.

What does that rant have to the excellent Heart Like A Levee. Because, this is the type of music that regular radio should be playing. Its intelligent, challenging music that used to be the stuff that radio was built around. Not to mention that, Hiss Golden Messenger (aka Michael Taylor) just keeps getting better with every release, constantly growing as a person and musician. His time touring with MMJ seems to have rubbed off with tracks like Like a Mirror Loves a Hammer and Ace of Cups Hung Low Band.

For his sixth album and second on Merge, Taylor delves into a subject Field Report dealt with on Marigolden. Taylor, like Chris Porterfield found success later in life, after they both were married and had kids. All of sudden, both were highly in demand here in the US and abroad. Naturally that takes a massive toll on your home life and your psyche- feeling like you’re missing out on so much at home. Buoyed by mandolin and Tift Merritt and Alexandra Sauser-Monning on backing vocals, Taylor explores the subject with such grace and style on the title track.

But as much as Taylor misses the home, he does find time to celebrate his time on the road with As The Crow Flies and Cracked Windshield. The latter is stunning. It starts with just Taylor strumming on an acoustic as some gentle synths keep the song propped up before the rest of the band joins in. Phil Cook has delightfully restrained licks on this track. I don’t know what else to say; it is just brilliant. Go listen to it.

Joined by the aforementioned Merritt and Sauder-Monning, Matt McCaughan on drums and the Cook Bros on guitar and bass, Heart Like A Levee is one of the best albums you’re going to hear this year. Haw our 7th rated album in 2013. Lateness of Dancers was #2 in 2014. I guess they’ve got nowhere to go but #1.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Hiss Golden Messenger is here

*NPR and Pat & Ron calling the Cubs are excluded

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

peter October 12, 2016 at 8:35 am

MC and the Cook brothers have been making some great music in the Carolinas the last few years and this is just another crowning achievement. Phil Cook is opening on some HGM new tour dates, do not miss them.

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