Hiss Golden Messenger – Jump for Joy

Latest album from the shapeshifting Americana band is made for dancing during the end times

Album Review by Lewis Wade | 21 Aug 2023
  • Hiss Golden Messenger – Jump for Joy
Album title: Jump for Joy
Artist: Hiss Golden Messenger
Label: Merge
Release date: 25 Aug

Jump for Joy is M.C. Taylor's look back across his life, attempting to make sense of it and find solace in the simple act of being. It was made in a rush of post-pandemic energy, mostly on the road, as Taylor assessed his wild, romanticised youth, his experiences of fatherhood and attempts to stay positive as the world metaphorically and literally burns around us. The title feels partly sarcastic, but there's an earnestness that radiates from each song, infectious to the point of being cloying.

The arrangements are mostly smooth and funky, practically bar-room boogie compared to the bluesy folk Taylor made early in his career. I Saw the New Day in the World features a rush of saxophone, 20 Years and a Nickel has a second-line groove to it and the title track is straight-up honkytonk in its piano lines. However, some songs fade into obscurity as soon as they're done, the arrangements just chugging along tamely to provide a backdrop for Taylor's musings.

Lyrically, there's plenty to get stuck into, with a host of meditations on time and memory. Nu-Grape runs with an excellent metaphor about a gravestone cutter contemplating permanence, but the song that follows it, Feeling Eternal, is bit too on-the-nose, removing any nuance. My Old Friends is a bit slower, reflective and a touch schmaltzy, but Taylor sells the wide-eyed nostalgia well.

It's perhaps not the finest Hiss Golden Messenger album, but it's certainly one of the most joyful, and in the current climate, maybe that's just what we need.

Listen to: Shinbone, 20 Years and a Nickel