Hem - Funnel Cloud
Waveland Records by K. Nielsen 10.01.06
Sally Ellyson's feminine vocals and a full lot of musicians start the album sensitively, delicately. From the first few songs, I feel I could get caught up in an album like this...like Cowboy Junkies' The Trinity Sessions. Its the voice complimented by the thoughtful dynamics of interesting, sweet instruments...those who subtly shine throughout.
Glockenspiel, steel guitar, mandolin...the list goes on in our ears as the songs sooth. You may have guessed a country-thang from this list...and sure enough, starting around song five - 'Too Late to Turn Back Now', a fiddle whinnies in, giving a nice sitting on the porch swing, sipping mint juleps feeling.
Hem kicks it up a notch for 'The Pills Stopped Working' -- a country jig. I'm more drawn to the slow songs (which are all but this), offering space to pick out sounds that smoothly come in and go out.
"Great Houses of New York" is probably my favorite selection - a lullaby, a sad remembrance...with dissonance, and really beautiful, finger-plucked bass melodies. This brings to mind foggy, sun-bleached photographs...stacked in boxes without names or dates. Images are painted so vividly during a swaying serenade.
The last track of the album is an innocent, melancholy tune - that of perhaps Dorothy swooning to Toto from the Funnel Cloud?