Catching Up With Hiss Golden Messenger

“Words can mean different things, from day to day they change their meaning,” MC Taylor sings at the start of Jump For Joy, his latest under the reliable and stalwart Hiss Golden Messenger banner. Adopting a new character—named “Michael Crow,” with a subtle nod—allows Taylor a little space to move around. And tellingly, he uses much of that wiggle room to indulge in layers of funk (“I Saw the New Day in the World”), lithe soft-rock (“Shinbone”), and Dead-indebted shuffles (“California King”). Hiss Golden Messenger’s best records always balance honeyed charm with existential weight, but here the ratio feels exactly right: words change their meaning, after all, and though Taylor concludes the album confessing he “speaks a dead language,” it’s clear he’s got plenty of new things to say. Taylor joins us to discuss.

Hiss Golden Messenger :: Quietly Blowing It

On “Sanctuary,” the closing song on Hiss Golden Messenger’s ninth album, Quietly Blowing It, Mike Taylor sings: “Feeling bad, feeling blue, can’t get out of my own mind, but I know how to sing about it.” And thankfully, he does. For over a decade now, Hiss Golden Messenger has provided us with music that heals. Taylor’s songs stress the importance of growth, empathy, and grace, and acknowledge the formative inevitably of pain, weakness, and loss. And despite the self-effacing title and a past eighteen months plus of potent darkness, this new work only strengthens Taylor’s resolve.