Album Review: Hiss Golden Messenger | Terms Of Surrender

Hiss Golden Messenger is the aural conduit of acclaimed North Carolina songwriter M.C Taylor. Always a critical and peer darling, he’s been steadily garnering an ever growing popular following off the back of his quietly impactful muse and uniquely personal songwriting. Loosely channelling the broad-ranging realm of modern day Americana, ‘Terms Of Surrender’ sees Taylor and his crack cohort of musical sidekicks deliver a lovingly crafted ten song suite which delvers into the artists recent turbulent times.

‘I Need A Teacher’ gets things off to a perky start, a sunny slice of folk inflected indie-Americana with a soulful undertone, while second number ‘Bright Direction (You’re A Dark Star Now)’ shines courtesy of a moody keyboard accompaniment and some sweet vocal interjections from indie-roots starlet Jenny Lewis, who plays a prominent co-vocal foil across many of the albums tracks.

Taylor’s upfront, emotionally resonant vocal timbre brings to mind the ghost of the iconic and sadly departed Tom Petty, pervading through the heartbeat of numbers such as the spirited and spritely ‘Katy (You Don’t Have To Be Good Yet)’. This vibe is taken to its apex in the form of recent single, ‘Happy Birthday, Baby’, which bounces along on an insistent riff and soulful vocal inflections.

Meanwhile, ‘Down At The Uptown’, is a gorgeously melancholic slow burner with lonesome harmonica flourishes and synth washes which channels acts such as Sparklehorse and Grant Lee Buffalo. These more subdued soundscapes are further explored in numbers such as the introspective and soul inflected ‘Cat’s Eye Blue’ and the gospel tinged ‘Old Enough To Wonder Why (Eastside – Westside), which nails its colours to a bedrock of subtle banjo and treated electo-beats. And penultimate Number, ‘Whip’ is a powerful soul-rock hybrid that wouldn’t be out of place residing in the Greg Dulli song catalogue.

Whilst the influences are fairly transparent, Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger(s) prove adept hands at injecting a soulful heart of gold into their lovingly crafted homages.

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