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Tulips FTW welcomes Hiss Golden Messenger on Thursday, February 10th!

$1 from every ticket goes to support the Durham Public Schools Foundation whose mission is to foster community support for public schools and invest in our students, educators, and families to ensure success and equity for every student.

“I went looking for peace,” says songwriter M.C. Taylor of  Hiss Golden Messenger about his new album Quietly Blowing It,  out June 25, 2021, on Merge Records. “It’s not exactly a record  about the state of the world—or my world—in 2020, but  more a retrospective of the past fi ve years of my life, painted  in sort of impressionistic hues. Maybe I had the presence of  mind when I was writing Quietly Blowing It to know that this  was the time to go as deep as I needed to in order to make a  record like this. And I got the time required in order to do  that.” He pauses and laughs ruefully. “I got way more time  than I needed, actually.”  

Quietly Blowing It was written and arranged by Taylor in his  home studio—his 8’ × 10’ sanctuary packed fl oor to ceiling  with books, records, and old guitars—as he watched the  chaotic world spin outside his window. “Writing became a  daily routine,” he explains, “and that was a ballast for me.  Having spent so much time on the road over the past ten  years, where writing consistently with any kind of fl ow can be  tricky, it felt refreshing. And being in my studio, which is  both isolated from and totally connected to the life of my  family, felt appropriate for these songs.” Between March and  June, Taylor wrote and recorded upwards of two dozen  songs—in most cases playing all of the instruments himself— before winnowing the collection down and bringing them to  the Hiss band. In July, the group of musicians, with Taylor in  the production seat, went into Overdub Lane in Durham, NC, for a week, where they recorded Quietly Blowing It as an  organic unit honed to a fi ne edge from their years together on  the road. “We all needed to be making that music together,”  he recalls. “We’ve all spent so many years traveling all over the  world, but in that moment, it felt cathartic to be recording  those particular songs with each other in our own small  hometown.” 

Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor brings his keen eye to our  “broken American moment”—as he fi rst sang on Hiss Golden  Messenger’s critically acclaimed, GRAMMY®-nominated  Terms of Surrender—in ways that feel devastatingly intimate  and human. Beginning with the wanderer’s lament of “Way  Back in the Way Back,” with its rallying cry of “Up with the  mountains, down with the system,” Taylor carries the listener  on a musical journey that continually returns to themes of  growing up, loss, obligation, and labor with piercing clarity,  and his musical infl uences—including classic Southern soul  and gospel, renegade country, and spiritual jazz—have never  felt more genuine. Indeed, Quietly Blowing It is a distillation  of the rolling Hiss Golden Messenger groove, from the  rollicking, Allman-esque “The Great Mystifier” to the  chiming falsetto soul of “It Will If We Let It,” to the smoky,  shuffling title track with its bittersweet guitar assist from  Nashville legend Buddy Miller. The album ends with soulful  lead single “Sanctuary,” a song about trying to reconcile  tragedy and joy, with references to John Prine (“Handsome Johnny had to go, child…”), economic disparity, and the  redemptive quality of hope. Indeed, when he sings, “Feeling  bad, feeling blue, can’t get out of my own mind; but I know  how to sing about it,” it feels like the album’s spiritual thesis.  Throughout Quietly Blowing It, Taylor reckons with the  tumultuous present in wholly personal terms, encouraging  listeners to do the same. “These songs always circle back to the  things that I feel like I have a handle on and the things that  I’m not proud of about myself. When I think of the phrase  ‘quietly blowing it,’ I think of all the ways that I’ve misstepped,  misused my gifts, miscommunicated. ‘Born on the level,  quietly blowing it.’ That’s what’s on my mind there. Always  fuckin’ up in little ways.” 

Surrounding himself with a trusted cast of collaborators that  includes Miller, songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov, songwriter  and Tony Award–winning playwright Anaïs Mitchell, multi instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, Dawes’ brothers Taylor and  Griffin Goldsmith, and his oldest musical confidant Scott  Hirsch, Taylor has made his most audacious and hopeful  work yet with Quietly Blowing It; it’s an album that speaks  personal truth to this moment in which the old models of  being feel broken and everything feels at stake. “I don’t know  that the peace that I crave when I’m far from home exists,  actually,” says Taylor. “It’s more complicated. I still don’t  know what peace means for me, because I can be sitting on  the couch watching a movie with my family and be completely  tangled up in my head. But if I keep on doing my own personal  work on myself—writing records like Quietly Blowing It—I  have to think that I’m getting closer.”

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