North Carolina singer-songwriter MC Taylor spent half his life in hardcore or experimental rock bands before going it alone with the Hiss Golden Messenger moniker. With at least 6 albums and numerous EPs and collaborations under his belt, Taylor has established himself as one of American roots music’s most interesting talents and is a real scholar of American roots music.
For ‘Heart Like A Levee’ Taylor has drawn heavily on the inner tensions created by the competing and often conflicting demands of life on the road and life as a family man. This record manages to balance great musicianship with an authentic lyrical voice in a way that never sounds forced, overly polished or over produced. There’s a careworn, often pleading quality to Taylor’s vocal that makes for an instantly sympathetic listen; we dare you not to be moved by his asking, on the title track, ‘Do you hate me, honey// As much as I hate myself?’ If that all sounds a bit heavy then don’t worry, there’s also plenty of toe tapping rhythm and catchy soulful melody to get you humming along.
Perhaps more so than on any other Hiss… album, the balance of country and soul here is exquisite, with a homespun gospel feel permeating large swathes of the record. Elsewhere there’s a pleading intimacy at play that shows a strong Bob Dylan influence and, as Taylor is known as a serial collaborator, a gorgeous duet with Tift Merrit which really tugs at the heartstrings. Another masterpiece