14 June 2011
listen: from country hai east cotton
Story by Andrew Reinholds
The simple charm and warmth of Hiss Golden Messenger’s new album keeps you listening time and again.
Originally a US only limited edition release of five hundred hand numbered CDs back in 2009, From Country Hai East Cotton is the work of duo MC Taylor (who for some unknown reason goes by the name of Jai Lil Diamond on this album) and Scott Hirsch a.k.a Hiss Golden Messenger.
With an impressively long supporting cast the duo have created a mini album (clocking in at just seven tracks) that simply charms you to listen, with its laid back fusion of glistening seventies Americana rock, folk, country and electronica – in fact it could almost be the perfect MOR companion to Band of Horses, The National et al.
Opener ‘Isobel’ is a wonderful blues-tinged ballad opener (“you are the sun to my heart’s cold frost”), as Taylor’s vocals and the beautifully paced melody simply wrap you up inside their warmth
Things pick up quickly with the pop tinged Watchout for the Cannonball supported by a happy-go-lucky synth-string section and charging beat. From there, ‘John Has Gone to the Light’ offers a complete change in tack with its dub inspired groove, echos, loops and spartan notes from a number of instruments.
The changes continue at pace – ‘Row’ conjures the spirit of Jerry Rafferty jamming with Steely Dan via banjo, violin, slide pedal, electric piano, hand claps and assorted percussion.
And the surprises keep coming – final two tracks ‘Lion’ and ‘Resurrection Blues’ ensure we go out on a high with their piano driven melodies providing a rich and much darker texture to what has come before.
In the end, this is not an album that is going to change your life, or dramatically alter your perceptions and views on the current state of music. But its simple charm and warmth will draw you back again and again – nothing like a little sunshine and smile on a dull, grey and wet Auckland winter’s day.