Hiss Golden Messenger

Hallelujah Anyhow

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On his seventh album under the Hiss Golden Messenger moniker, vocalist, songwriter, and idea man M.C. Taylor's musical approach has continued to evolve. Taylor's sound has matured from the minimalist dark night of the soul of 2010's Bad Debt to the richly textured emotions of 2017's Hallelujah Anyhow, which in both attitude and technique suggests a great lost singer/songwriter album from the glory days of Laurel Canyon. Here, Taylor's melodies sound both sunny and weathered, the work of a man who has seen good and bad in the world and has opted to remain optimistic without letting go of his realism. His vocals generate the same mood with his full-bodied twang, and his studio band evokes the well-worn magnificence of the Band (both with and without Bob Dylan) and the overcast Midwestern temperament of the Jayhawks without suggesting they're tried to cop moves from either band. The superb guitar work from Josh Kaufman, the evocative keyboards of Phil Cook, and the tough but implacable drumming of Darren Jessee give these songs just the right push they need, rocking gently but decisively while letting their country accents strut their stuff. As for Taylor's songs, he's better with mood than with narrative, but give him half a chance and these ten tunes will powerfully connect with you, as his meditations on life's trials and love's tribulations take root. Taylor's talent is well served on this album, and the craft is superb and soulful at the same time. Hallelujah Anyhow is another outstanding exercise in record making from Hiss Golden Messenger, and it's recommended to loyal fans and curious neophytes alike.

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