MC Taylor’s songs have always felt weighed down by something. Through seven full-lengths under the Hiss Golden Messenger moniker, Taylor’s reedy tenor labors under the shadow of some guilt looming right above him, while his nimble alt-country ensemble—seemingly always ready to just jam, man—stays reserved, looking over their shoulders. With this month’s Heart Like a Levee, the weight now has a definite shape: responsibility. Following his 2014 Merge Records debut, Lateness of Dancers, these 11 songs emerged as the newly day-job-less Taylor reckoned with his obligations to his family, his music, and himself. If the playing is any indication, embracing responsibility can feel like a burden lifted; the new record sees the band fortify their sound with a swagger that’s as much Memphis or Muscle Shoals as it is Nashville. NATHAN TUCKER
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