Published Feb 17, 2015Spurred by the reception to their David Letterman performance of "Southern Grammar" from last year's Lateness of Dancers EP, Hiss Golden Messenger front man M.C. Taylor chose to take a live version of the song — performed for Philadelphia radio station WXPN — and package it up with some B-sides to show some different sides to the project's alt-country vibes.
While the studio versions portray the project as Taylor's brainchild, the live version shares the spotlight more than any of the studio records, portraying the project as a jammy troupe with the off-the-cuff spirit of a hootenanny.
Despite similar, slowed pacing and shared lyrics, the two studio cuts here feature oppositional vibes. The horn-glossed "He Wrote the Book" would expertly soundtrack any moment of romantic intimacy, but the slight synth wash and steady beat of "Brother, Do You Know the Road?" feel a little more sinister. Both prove that, when given the proper amount of space, Taylor knows expertly how to use it to craft some great, introspective Americana.
A tantalizing taste of things to come, Taylor and his merry band of folksters prove that they are capable of slowing things down while keeping things interesting, and will be ones to watch as they continue onward down the road. (Merge)