Hiss Golden Messenger – The Lateness of Dancers

As you may well know, an interesting band name will get me every time. Hiss Golden Messenger avoided my attention for a long time because I have difficulty reading, but it’s now in the running for my album of 2014 with their stellar album, The Lateness of Dancers. A complete collection of roots-rock, singer songwriter style folk music, The Lateness of Dancers is an impressive collection and one sure to garner some attention from  a lot more people.

I call this album complete because, like many of the best albums of the last few years, notably Goodnight, Texas’s astonishingly brilliant debut A Long Life of Living, it hits a lot of different styles and flows between them seamlessly. From the real rootsy and rocking sound of “I’m a Raven (Shake Children)” to the mellow, cricket backed title track, this album delivers on every level.

“Lucia” is the opener here and, if you hear a little Langhorne Slim, you’re not alone. It’s a good, happy sounding introduction to the album and the sound that band pulls off effortlessly. “Saturday’s Song” is a perfect midweek track, again reminiscent of Langhorne Slim, about simply looking forward to the weekend. It’s a simple, relatable song, all the more brilliance for the ease of it.

One of my personal favorites is “Day O Day (Love So Free).” Its the perfect wake up in the morning song. It’s simple, it sings about love and it’s ease, and it’s introduced by a little girl. It’s perfect. That song leads right into the title track, which is a fantastic combination of a few wonderful musical things. First, it’s got cricket in the background, making it sound like it was authentically recorded outside. It’s a really cool effect that works perfectly with the song. Second, it accomplishes something rare by harmonizing piano and guitar almost so well that you forget that they are two separate instruments. It’s a rare gem.

There’s also a few fun, upbeat songs on this album. “I’m a Raven (Shake Children)” and “Southern Grammar” are both very well done roots/Southern rock songs. They’ve been described as country folk and I’d say these songs fit pretty squarely in that fake genre. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is “Drum,” which sounds like, with the fiddle, an Old Crow Medicine Show song. It’s a perfect epitome of what folk music is and a perfect way to wrap up a stellar album. Look for more on this album when our end of the year lists come out.

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