HEM has drawn comparisons to artists as disparate as Nick Drake, Mazzy Star, Sandy Denny and Jeff Buckley and drawn fans as varied as The Chemical Brothers, Glenn Tilbrook, Linda Thompson, James Iha and Beth Orton. The music is lush and filled with eclectic harmonies: a mandolin enveloped by an 18-piece orchestra, a pedal steel accentuated by a glockenspiel, underpinned by guitar and piano in an elaborate framework. And through it all, Sally Ellysons beautiful voice shaping each word. ASCAP award-winning songwriter and Rabbit Songs Co-Producer, Dan Messé sold off most of his personal possessions so he could afford the orchestras, and the luxury of being as painstaking as they wanted over the arrangements of each song. No samples, no synths, no Pro-Tools mixing and no digital studio wizardry were employed. Rabbit Songs is an old school album, recorded the old school way. Guitarist / Co-Producer Gary Maurer, a seasoned studio engineer, has engineered and / or produced a host of artists and bands including Jon Spencer, Luna and Fountains Of Wayne. "Sally Ellyson has one of those voices - an understated powerhouse that wows with serene confidence. The result is a rich debut that shouldnt be overlooked" - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
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Top Customer Reviews
Saddled firmly in the beautiful space between country, folk, and bluegrass, the meloncholy songs on this album continually please. Sally Ellyson's breezy vocals set the tone for a consistently strong, but delicate album. As far as instrumentation goes, most of the songs are centered on piano or acoustic guitar, but they are wonderfully layered with fiddle, lap steel, and orchestral flourishes. The musicianship is top notch -- and I can't help wondering whether these guys spend more time in Nashville than their stated home of Brooklyn.
The lyrics are simple and heartbroken. Solid for the genre, but neither an asset nor a distraction.
Of the selections Amazon lets you try out, "When I
was Drinking" and "Half Acre" are the most consistent with what the rest of the album has to offer. Give those a listen, and it should be pretty easy to make up your mind. If you're anything like me (or my poor friend who gets no present), Rabbit Songs will become part of your collection.
One small caveat: the reason I gave this album four stars instead of five is because it's not for everyone. If you're into this genre, you'll definitely like it, but I know a lot of people who would be bored or put off by its slowness. Also, there are better albums that are very similar to this one (Gillian Welch's "Soul Journey," for example).
Still, if you like your music like a pretty morning sunrise, go no further.
The remainder of the album paints a haunting picutre with mixed musical influences. If I had to classify, I'd be most tempted to file this one under country, but it's a far cry from Shania Twain. Folk, gentle pop, bluegrass and even some moderate rock all spill into the stew as well.
Ellyson's smooth, almost smoky vocal sings out lilting tales of lost loves ("When I Was Drinking," "Lazy Eye", almost loves ("Stupid Mouth Shut") and current loves ("All That I'm Good For," "Idle"). The lyrics spawn some memorable images ("I'm not so strong out of my shoes / dragging like anchors" - from 'Sailor,' "restless stars through the trees / enough to fall to our knees / make no sound so no one sees" - from 'Idle'), and definitely aren't anything close to bad, but in the same breath, they're not the star of the show.
The music succeeds, more than the lyrics, in creating the albums colour. Most songs rely on a piano and/or acoustic guitar, usually with some gorgeous horns or strings and some light percussion backing them up. "When I Was Drinking," "Horsey" and "All That I'm Good For" have a definite twang to them; "The Cuckoo" could've been on the 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack; "Leave Me Here," "Sailor" and "Lazy Eye" are sublimely slow numbers and "Stupid Mouth Shut," "Night Like a River" and the absloutely fantastic "Half Acre" have a more folk/pop flavour, through all of which floats the beautiful vocal.
There are also three instrumental tracks.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have listened to this CD SO. MANY. TIMES. I love Hem, and they are at their best in this album. I highly, highly, highly recommend it! It is so good =)Published 4 months ago by FloraCaroline
I bought this cd for the song from the Liberty Mutual insurance commercial and fell in love with the other songs too.Published 11 months ago by Lynn S.
I found out about this group on PBS, and absolutely love it when I'm in a relaxed mood.Published 16 months ago by Susan M. Crowe
Delicate and lovely, but not soft headed. Sally Ellyson's sweet vocals belie some tough messages. Best songs: "When I Was Drinking", "Half Acre", Betting on... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Daniel W. Bleier
good vocals and there is a great team that brings a kind of cool breeze to the offerings of this recoding ... Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by K. Brown
a long time ago i heard a song on an intro to a pbs documentary that haunted me. i looked high and low and couldn't find what the song was. Read morePublished on February 16, 2014 by devils fan
Do you like folk music? Do you love music that will make you feel cozy and tucked away in a mountain retreat? Then HEM is just for you. Really glad to have discovered this band!Published on November 25, 2013 by Aly
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