In the “evocative-backstory-for-a-home-recorded-folk-album” category, Hiss Golden Messenger’s upcoming Bad Debt has a stunner: Years before the first proper Hiss Golden Messenger’s full length, M.C. Taylor sat awake at his kitchen table while his one-year-old slept, privately wracked by anguish and fear over the collapse of the global economy and its consequences. The songs he recorded at that table, directly to cassette, were little efforts at emotional reckoning, prayers he set to tape. Then the CD version of the album was destroyed in a warehouse fire during the London riots, and is only seeing reissue now. That’s some enviable lost-classic baggage. In a note about the album, Taylor acknowledges: “Bad Debt was my revelation, and there are many for whom I’ll never make a record better than this one.”
The track “Drum,” heard here, seems to have arrived on present-day shores untouched, a message in a bottle bobbing serenely on turbulent seas, as simple and immediate as the evening it was recorded. “Take the good news, spirit it away,” Taylor sings repeatedly, strumming palm-muted chords abstractedly. The song is simultaneously fraught with anxiety and shot through with wondering calm, an emotional cocktail that anyone who’s sat awake while their child sleeps will recognize instantly.
– Jayson Greene, Pitchfork