The primary members of Hiss Golden Messenger, the Durham, NC-based singer/songwriter M.C. Taylor and the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and recordist Scott Hirsch have been playing music together for almost two decades, and their fifth full-length effort, Lateness of Dancers was released by Merge Records back in September to an astounding amount of critical praise both nationally and internationally… 

“Mahogany Dread," Lateness of Dancers’s latest single confirms that the critical praise the duo has received is warranted and well-deserved in a way that I think is rare for many critically praised efforts. "Mahogany Dread” expresses the hard-fought wisdom of a grown man – a man who has sinned and yet repented, been selfish and yet selfless, been joyful and yet experienced great sadness. But interestingly enough, Taylor’s lyrics manage to discuss small moments – a stolen glance at a lover and smiling over the fact that despite the changes of the years, you still see them as the pretty young thing they once were; of marveling over one’s children playing; the thoughts of how they’ve changed and yet remained the same – and with a novelist’s attention to detail. 

The song’s arrangement of acoustic guitar, twangy electric guitar, bursts of organ and drums manages to evoke an old-timey country feel – it possesses a workaday, quiet self-assuredness and an amiable warmth. It’s frankly, a remarkably well-written song that expresses the sort of adult feelings and thoughts I could only really understand at this point of my life. 

Hiss Golden Messenger is Durham, North Carolina-based songwriter M.C. Taylor, in partnership with multi-instrumentalist and recordist Scott Hirsch, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. The pair have been playing music together for nearly two decades. Poor Moon is the fourth proper Hiss Golden Messenger release, and serves as the best summation thus far of Taylor’s lone journeys through the dark night of the soul. “God is good, and it’s understood,” he sings. “But he moves in mysterious ways.”

Taylor and Hirsch are clear that they draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including the blue-collar mysticism of Ronnie Lane and Richard & Linda Thompson; the high haunted atmospheres of John Martyn and Talk Talk; and American vernacular music writ large (from Archie Brownlee to the Staple Singers; Charlie Poole to Merle Haggard). Yet for all that, Poor Moon is a singular vision, one that only two companions could have made after twenty years of music-making, revelry, and repent.