Live review

Club Uncut: Hiss Golden Messenger - February 9, 2011

Hiss Golden Messenger
Slaughtered Lamb, London

“I’ll do my best to put you in a trance here,” says Michael Taylor, aka Hiss Golden Messenger, as he tweaks and tunes his guitar at the start of tonight’s Club Uncut show. This is Taylor’s third London show in a week, including an in-store performance at Rough Trade on Saturday. Clearly, he’s on a roll.

John wrote a few days ago about Taylor’s excellent set at King’s Place, and there’s more of the same magic on display tonight. Here, though, there’s occasional accompaniment from Voice Of The Seven Thunders’ Rick Tomlinson – nearly back to match fitness after suffering a broken finger.

Live, Taylor’s music has a warm, folk-soul feel to it that sounds particularly good resonating round the snug confines of the Slaughtered Lamb’s basement venue. There are some sound-proofing problems – noises from the bar upstairs frequently intrude, music from the jukebox or someone dragging what sounds like a bench across the floor. But for the most part, Taylor’s set – to my mind, strong on an early Seventies’ Laurel Canyon vibe – is exquisitely rendered here. The songs un-spool languidly from Taylor (and Tomlinson’s) guitar, homespun tales that mostly seem evocative of a rustic existence. Here he is, for instance, on “Drum”: “The farmer shall wear the green of his furrows/The plowman shall heel his teams for the day/The hunter shall still his dangerous arrow”.

Between songs, Taylor offers glimpses into his own bucolic-sounding life in Pittsboro, North Carolina – “a very wooded place in the north part of the state.” He recorded much of his music there, “at the kitchen table”. It all sounds so folksy it seems jarring when, in passing, he mentions an email from his wife back home; modern day communications seem not to have much of a place here.

Another typically strong night at Club Uncut. That’ll be Arboretum at the Borderline on March 24. We’ll see you there!


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