M.C. Taylor spent years trawling the countryside of North Carolina as a folklorist, identifying and recording regional musical genetic strands in the tradition of Alan Lomax. As he cataloged and, most importantly, listened, he began to channel his own artistic impulses into the project known as Hiss Golden Messenger. His 2014 breakout "The Lateness of Dancers" came after a string of self- or limited-released recordings, and was a thesis statement of sorts, drawing together grand, stately folk and country sounds into a cohesive whole. It was successful enough that Taylor was able to quit his day job, and work and tour full-time as a performer and songwriter. However, this new-found freedom was coupled with an anxiety about the dutiful obligations of a burgeoning family. This tension was the lyrical source and inspiration for Hiss Golden Messenger's new record, "Heart Like a Levee," which retains the deeply-rooted song structures but adds sonic embellishments that name-check a different geologic layer of American music: the soulful sounds of Stax and Muscle Shoals.