William Tyler & Hiss Golden Messenger - Summerhall, Edinburgh, Sat 4 May
Songs setting a dense emotional mood and strong sense of place
Despite the setting in a cool, dark, wood-panelled lecture theatre, sometime Silver Jews and Lambchop guitarist William Tyler and Hiss Golden Messenger songwriter and fulcrum Michael ‘MT’ Taylor brought a certain sense of the pastoral with them for this joint show. Playing a set each, the first saw singer and acoustic guitarist Taylor accompanied by Tyler on slide guitar, an unearthly sound even in a backing role like this. Tyler’s every scrape of a string echoed out like a gunshot across the prairie, while Taylor’s cracked and resonantly beautiful voice reminded of a worn-out Levon Helm on a cover of Mike Waterson’s ‘Bright Phoebus’.
Playing songs from his new LP Impossible Truth, Tyler headlined with an all instrumental set, although he broke his own rule to ‘never try to talk and tune a twelve string guitar at the same time’ between songs. He told us ‘Hotel Catatonia’ was about being locked in a freezer by his old boss and recounted staying only a mile away from last month’s Boston shootout, and these stories lived and breathed through evocative and deftly played songs like ‘Cadillac Desert’ and ‘We Can’t Go Home Again’, indie movie soundtracks-in-waiting which set a dense emotional mood and a strong sense of place and time.