By Ian Bremner
M.C. Taylor spent the majority of quarantine like the rest of us Americans; sitting alone in a room stressing about the political climate while trying to find solace in the things that mean most. In Taylor’s case, it’s records, books, guitars, notebooks of writings and putting his thoughts into music form. Taylor writes and performs as Hiss Golden Messenger, who has released a consistent flow of wonderful records almost annually over the last decade. Always fresh off the heels of a previous album release, Hiss Golden Messenger is to the point in his career where it’s fun to analyze each record as a chapter in part of a larger story. Quietly Blowing It, is subtle, gentle and full of life.
As a frequent collaborator with Brad Cook behind the production dials, Quietly Blowing It was produced and engineered by Taylor himself. A cast of guest singers and players for the final product runs deep with the likes of Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith (Dawes) Nashville guitarist Buddy Miller, Josh Kauffman and Anais Mitchell (Bonny Light Horseman) all paying their talents. What rings the loudest on record is the solace Taylor found in his home studio writing the album. It’s evident by the softness in delivery of the songs and the focus on the broader view. Though not directly as political as his twitter feed, Taylor delivers messages of hope, praise and critique of the country we call home in the United States.
It’s fun to be fan of Hiss Golden Messenger because he seems to genuinely enjoy the process of making art and playing music. Taylor wears his emotions on his sleeve. He stands up hard for public schooling, loves his home in Durham, North Carolina and Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, gospel music and obscure reggae records. It all makes sense over the course of a HGM record.
The last track is titled Sanctuary. You could surmise it’s about finding a place or a thing you hold dear enough to find true peace in. The first and last verse are the same. “Feeling bad // feeling blue // can’t get out of my own mind // I know how to sing about it.” If singing is Taylor’s sanctuary, we’re grateful to be invited in, but the lesson in his music is to keep searching for our own.
Quietly Blowing It is out Friday 6/25 on Merge Records. Buy/Listen HERE