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Hiss Golden Messenger - Hallelujah Anyhow album review

Sturdily soulful Americana

Cover art for Hiss Golden Messenger - Hallelujah Anyhow album

Hiss Golden Messenger are basically M.C. Taylor and assorted friends. This native Californian has become a leading Americana voice in the last decade, alchemising his love for The Byrds, The Beatles, Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young. The style he’s arrived at almost makes burning effigies of this past, rising out of its ashes with singed, heady conviction. Musically, though, he can’t fly free of his debts.

The smooth saxophone and inarticulate scat vocal in John The Gun nods explicitly to Van. So, probably, does Domino (Time Will Tell), a song of upbeat, immaterial ecstasy.

His words and sentiments are left deliberately smudged and indefinite in places; sardonic Dylan phrasing sticks to some words, double-tracked Lennon wails on others. Lost In The Darkness, with its foot-stomp beat and urgent harmonica, sits on the splice between faith and doubt, a favourite Taylor spot. His fragile honesty lights a well-worn path.