Review: Hiss Golden Messenger’s Ode to Optimism

Hiss Golden Messenger/ Jump For Joy/ Merge Records
Four Out of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

For the past several years, Hiss Golden Messenger has continued to make a decidedly emphatic impression within the scope of today’s indie environs. Their music is infused with insight and imagination, and rarely traipses across repeated terrain. That said, the band’s latest opus, the aptly-titled Jump For Joy marks a new milestone for the North Carolina-based band, an album that’s purely conceptual in its exploration of relationships, religion, and the trappings of life’s everyday encounters. 

It is, in fact, a decidedly ambitious effort, hardly surprising considering that it follows on the heels of Terms of Surrender, which was honored with a nomination for Best Americana Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. No doubt buoyed by that accomplishment, the band’s guitarist and erstwhile helmsman M.C. Taylor wrote a series of songs that reflected his own music-making journey, using a fictional stand-in of sorts named Michael Crow to convey his personal perspective. 

As a result, euphoria and optimism are infused within every song, as evidenced by the easily engaging “Shinbone” (I woke up this morning / My God, I felt happy), the breezy lope of the title track, the effervescent effects of “The Wondering,” and the soulful strut at the core of “Nu-Grape.” So too, while the mood is generally mellow, “California King” adds an uptick in energy, eventually culminating in the rocking resolve of the album’s clear-eyed conclusion, “Sunset on the Faders.”

Hints of psychedelia and cosmic cacophony are occasionally inserted in-between songs, but given the optimism and assertion shared overall, the clarity is rarely diminished. Credit Taylor and his colleagues —Alex Bingham (bass, vocals, mellotron), Chris Boerner (guitars, synth), Nick Falk (drums, percussion), and Sam Fribush (keys, vocals)—for executing an effort that can easily be considered another major achievement for this ever-consistent combo. In a world beset by tragedy and turmoil, any cause to Jump For Joy is clearly worthwhile. 

Photo by Graham Tolbert / All Eyes Media

Leave a Reply

The 20 Best Gloria Estefan Quotes

HunterGirl Shares Emotional New Song, “Ain’t About You”