There's a simple yet deeply profound concept at work at the center of Hiss Golden Messenger.
Under the layers of exceptional musicianship, highly tuned grooves and musical notions ranging in influence from country-western and folk to Muscle Shoals soul is a man writing himself through a journey.
The project of Michael (M.C.) Taylor, the Americana/folk rock band has emerged on the radar of national media and garnered high praise for bringing fresh air to a genre that is quickly becoming saturated.
But Taylor has been around for a long time, cutting his teeth on the project with five studio albums before catching the eye of Merge Records. The celebrated indie label has put out his last two albums, including the most recent, 2016's "Heart Like A Levee."
Over the years, Taylor's writing has been the core of the project as he peppered his albums with songs about love, loss and journey, while fine-tuning his compass to a place of unbridled honesty. On the title track of his latest album, Taylor sings to his love, "Do you hate me, honey/As much as I hate myself?"
"My goal, whether I am up to it or not every day, is to write something that reveals a truth about myself," Taylor told Do Savannah. "Sometimes the brain or the ego is not in the mood to deal with that. Sometimes, the brain wants it, my brain. Not every song that I write is great, but every song teaches me something about myself."
The 11 tracks on "Heart Like A Levee" began with Taylor in a moment of bold transition in early 2015. He had just quit his day job to focus entirely on Hiss Golden Messenger. It was a daring decision, to venture out on a gamble with a family who relies on him as a breadwinner. Throughout the album, Taylor wrestles with himself and the world, and at times finds solace.
In the ever-changing landscape of the music industry, musicians have been forced to tour much more often now than perhaps in earlier years of rock 'n' roll. Ticket/merchandise sales help fund a lot of musicians, since album sales plummeted with the advent of the digital age and streaming. Regardless, Taylor presses on with a keen sense of purpose.
"I hear people talking about the good ol' days when money was a lot more easy to come by," Taylor said. "I've never experienced that in my life. I've been playing music for a long time. To me, the music industry, I guess it's hard. To me it's always been tricky to navigate. For most days, for me, it's better than working a normal nine-to-five job.
"I think at the core of music, the way people respond to melody and to words that are put together in a certain way, I don't think that's really changed in any way," he added. "It seems pretty consistent to me."
Over the years, a variety of musicians have helped shape Hiss Golden Messenger's final product. Three, however, have remained constant in Taylor's songwriting and recording of late: brothers Brad and Phil Cook, and Scott Hersh, the latter of whom Taylor started the project with when they relocated to North Carolina together in 2007.
"The people I play with are really good," Taylor said. "They can play anything. At this point, having recorded with people like Phil Cook and Brad Cook and Scott Hersh so much, I can hear what they're going to do when I am writing. Or, I can write toward their strengths.
"They have very specific colors. If all of those guys are a different color of the spectrum, we can put together a cool set of colors when we make a recording."
Hiss Golden Messenger's double bill at the Savannah Music Festival is his third appearance in Savannah in as many years after back-to-back stints at Savannah Stopover Music Festival in 2015 and 2016. Taylor will have the brothers Cook in tow, and possibly a drummer, as well as some new material.
"We're kind of gearing up to make a new record," Taylor said. "I have a bunch of new songs. Which is what I've been spending my time on when I am home. It'll be fun. Savannah's a good vibe. I love your town."
Hiss Golden Messenger/Sounds of Kolachi
When: 9 p.m. April 1 and 5:30 p.m. April 2
Where: Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E. Broad St.