Following the progress of Hiss Golden Messenger over the 5 albums released by the band thus far has been a satisfying road trip. Every new release seems to notch up the quality and the songs of the bands leading light M C Taylor grow in sophistication and self assurance. Their last album "Haw" was a particular favourite although "Lateness of Dancers" may be about to trump this.
Taylor and Scott Hirsch, his key partner, plough an electric folk furrow with songs that are well crafted and immaculately constructed. They fall easily into that category of compositions which sneak up on you, until there comes a point when they lodge in he brain and refuse to budge. On this album a couple of leading culprits already stand out. The trials, tribulations and joys of parenthood are tackled on the glorious "Mahogany Dread" a sophisticated piece of roots rock that is an album standout. The title track shows a more plaintive side to the band which has some echoes of Jackson Browne and a aching vocal by Taylor which again should be a choice for the download button. There are also couple of retreads on the album as the folk blues of opener "Lucia" goes back to Taylor's old band Court and Spark, similarly the concluding track "Drum" is a pure country song which previously appeared on the kitchen based recordings of the lo-fi album "Bad Debt". Other songs worthy of mention include "Saturday Night" characterised by a pounding piano and a big hook that pull you in. Finally the pace subsides on "Black Dog Wind (Rose of Roses) on a song which gently ticks over and allows Taylor's conversational style to flow centred on his observation that "Night seemed so endless and I fought with the sunshine/Mama begged me to wait for the right time".
"Lateness of Dancers" shows that Taylor is incrementally building from album to album and will at some time reach a level of sheer quality that cannot be surpassed. He is not quite there yet but this is journey worth travelling with an artist who will never leave you musically stranded.
Review by Red on Black