32. Hiss Golden Messenger, 'Hallelujah Anyhow'
Michael "M.C." Taylor, the blue-collar visionary leader of Hiss Golden Messenger, is Tom Joad come to life – a plainspoken everyman just trying to make sense of his own heart in hopes it might help him figure out the rest of the world, too. It's that heart that shines through Hallelujah Anyhow, an album that lives up to that seemingly contradictory title by somehow conveying both hopefulness and weary resignation. Stately country-soul arrangements lend the proceedings a sense of dignity, with Taylor's matter-of-fact voice conjuring up truth as well as beauty. This is comforting balm at a time when day-to-day reality can seem like the stuff of madness-inducing nightmares. D.M.