Hiss Golden Messenger Poor Moon

Hiss Golden MessengerPoor Moon
There's something unsettling in the combination of the easy sway of the music and the dense, mystical tone of M.C. Taylor's lyrics on this latest collaboration between he and multi-instrumentalist Scott Hirsch. The pair have been recording as Hiss Golden Messenger for two decades, and the natural chemistry between them is palpable on Poor Moon. The album has the warm, homey feel of mid-'70s vinyl, with subtle brushes of pedal steel, banjo, fiddle and Hammond organ adding just the right colours. But what's most compelling is Taylor's take on Americana. A native of Durham, NC, there are many moments where he sounds as if he's been transported from early in the previous century to now. Yet there are just as many moments of desperation that could have come directly from Townes Van Zandt's pen, such as "Jesus Shot Me in the Head." In some ways, this also sounds like a perfect song for Elton John to cover. This is highly listenable, but equally disturbing. (Tompkins Square)