In an old tin-roofed barn on the outskirts of Hillsborough, North Carolina, alternative country duo Hiss Golden Messenger recorded their fifth full length studio album, Lateness of Dancers. The project, in congruency to years passed, includes collaboration with friends of both members MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch. This complex, allied environment is felt – has always been felt – in HGM’s collection of work, and Lateness of Dancers is no exception. In his songwriting, MC Taylor is able to communicate the beauty and desolation of seemingly ordinary life events through unique poetic voice and bright southern melodies. In an interview with Amoeba during the early days of HGM (mid 2009), a recently relocated Taylor describes his formula for songwriting, “Think of golden messages—like sky songs—as tunes that appear out of the blue and hang around your head, waiting to be sung… refer to these as “gift songs” that come from above, I believe the more skeptically inclined can receive and sing these songs too.” In their fifth studio album and first release under Merge Records, the crafted bond between sound and listener has never been stronger, more confident, and more understood.
The work starts out with “Lucia”, a strong first track, with guitar tones that harken back to the sound of the great, Tom Petty. When read aloud, the content speaks like a poem and highlights, from the get-go, Taylor’s ability to tell a story. Next in line is “Saturday Song”, a proper tune for any rowdy gentleman’s drinking playlist. You can smell the whiskey and taste the connection, sluggish and repetitive and perfect. Country vibes and bluegrass overtones take hold throughout the songs leading up to the title track “Lateness of Dancers”; a slow, folksy cigarette break.
The remainder of the album contains elements of new age blues, indie folk, and a ballad so addictive it hurts. “Black Dog Wind (Rose of Roses)”, is a slow, bass heavy piece of music, pulsating in nature, made dynamic through a soft and precise vocal delivery. Tyler’s singing pays tribute to Van Morrison’s stylistic tone in his highly underrated second studio release, “Astral Weeks”, and does so with feathery conviction.
When MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch decided to pack their bags and head for North Carolina, they did so in hopes of exploring the roots of country, bluegrass, and folk. What they brought with them was a California attitude, convicting and lighthearted, realistic but carefree, and the desire to leave the San Francisco scene behind in hopes of being immersed and accepted into another. Taylor explored folklore at an institution to better grasp the spirit of the Carolinas, while Scott honed his recording skills in hopes of emulating an almost touchable sound. Whether you are a fan of alternative, folk, bluegrass, or country, Lateness of Dancers is a must listen for those in need of some self-realization and emotional honesty.