In His Own Words: M.C. Taylor on Hiss Golden Messenger's 'Jump For Joy'
Describing the Durham-based Hiss Golden Messenger is like trying to grasp a forgotten word: It’s always on the tip of your tongue, but hard to speak. Songwriter and bandleader M.C. Taylor’s music is at once familiar, yet impossible to categorize: Elements from the American songbook—the steady, churning acoustic guitar and mandolin, the gospel emotion, the eerie steel guitar tracings, the bobbing and weaving organ and electric piano—provide the bedrock for Taylor’s existential ruminations about parenthood, joy, hope, and loneliness—our delicate, tightrope balance of dark and light—that offer fully engaged contemporary commentary on the present.
The songs that make up Jump for Joy—the sharpest and most autobiographical that M.C. Taylor has written under the Hiss name—read as a sort of epistolary, postcards between the present-day songwriter and his alias Michael Crow, a teenaged dreamer very much like Taylor himself, who trips his way through the 14 tunes that make up the record. In this way, Jump for Joy is a meditation on a life lived with art, and the ways that our hopes and dreams and decisions bump up against—and, with a little bit of luck, occasionally merge with—real life.
Produced by Taylor and engineered by longtime Hiss compatriot Scott Hirsch over two weeks in the late fall of 2022 at the fabled Sonic Ranch studio in Tornillo, TX, just a short walk from the Mexican border, Jump for Joy dances with joyful, spontaneous energy that feels like a fresh chapter in the Hiss Golden Messenger oeuvre. Taylor is accompanied throughout the album by his crack live band: guitarist Chris Boerner, bassist Alex Bingham, keyboardist Sam Fribush, and drummer Nick Falk, a collection of musicians that have helped make Hiss Golden Messenger’s live performances legendary affairs.