M.C. Taylor’s backstory is so rife with metaphor it would make any writer blush. Under the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger, he recorded his debut, Bad Debt, deep in the North Carolina woods with only his newborn son as company. The backdrop was a harsh winter and the world’s financial collapse, making his songs about spiritual redemption all the more resonant. The fact that most of the original copies of this debut burned up in the London riots of 2011 only added to its mysterious nature.
But Taylor hasn’t let these kinds of legends cloud his career. Together with his partner-in-crime, Scott Hirsch, Taylor has turned Hiss Golden Messenger into a unique roots-rock band, one that taps into Southern ghosts with songs that are content to ramble at their own pace. Befitting his use of allegory in his lyrics, Taylor performs like a preacher, slipping and sliding all around the beat. Last year’s Haw combined the band’s influences–JJ Cale, Dr. John, Waylon Jennings–into a cohesive sound that could choogle as well as tug at your emotions.
After years of toiling in obscurity, Hiss Golden Messenger makes its Merge Records debut with Lateness Of Dancers, out September 9. On “Saturday’s Song,” the band shows off its two sides: it’s both a Saturday-night and a Sunday-morning kind of group. “I might go a little crazy,” croons Taylor, just before Hiss Golden Messenger boogies off into the sunset.