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Rabbit Songs

4.7 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 24, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

HEM’s debut album Rabbit Songs now available again through Rounder Records.

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 Ellyson’s 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 shouldn’t be overlooked" - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. When I Was Drinking
  2. Half Acre
  3. Burying Song
  4. Betting on Trains
  5. Leave Me Here
  6. All That I’m Good For
  7. Idle (The Rabbit Song)
  8. Stupid Mouth Shut
  9. Lazy Eye
  10. Sailor
  11. Polly’s Dress
  12. Night Like a River
  13. The Cuckoo
  14. Waltz
  15. Horsey


Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 24, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • ASIN: B0009A1BX6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,645 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elliott Brown on February 12, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I bought this album as a present for a friend of mine who loves to sing along with Gillian Welch, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, and the Indigo Girls, but I ended up keeping it for myself.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Hem's "Rabbit Songs" is a beautiful mix of soft gentle melodies that soothe and lull you. At the same time, there's a lyrical edge as in "When I Was Drinking," "When I was with you living it up when the rent was due." Dan Messe's piano on "Halfacre" gives a sweet undulation, "So we carry every sadness with us." "Burying Song" is a lovely instrumental that flits by quickly. Sally Ellyson's vocals are soft and beautiful like a high flying bird on "Betting On Trains," "I held a silver dollar tight inside my fist & let you go." There is a classic feel to "Leave Me Here" with the yin and yang of a happy piano and sad viola. "I got shadows snapping at my tail who say I'm no damn good," Sally sings on "All That I'm Good For," with its feel like a gentle rain. "Idle (The Rabbit Song)" gives a carefree feel, "Gonna waste some time with you & let this world go." Part of the magic Hem creates comes from its sterling attention to the arrangements. On "Stupid Mouth Shut" we hear viola, cello, clarinet, flute, oboe, piano, guitar, and pedal steel guitar! "Lazy Eye" is a sentimental remembrance, "I can still see the hem of your dress." "Salior" is a dreamy float made magical with Tim McCarthy's french horn wafting over the clouds. "Polly's Dress" is a pretty instrumental piano piece. My favorite track is Steve Curtis' "Night Like A River" with the happy pluck of strings, "I could live a long while on the sweetness of her breath." Hem does a great reading on the traditional song "The Cuckoo.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Hem composes and plays some of the most honest and gorgeous music ever committed to recording material today. This antiquated (and I mean that in a very nice way) collection of heartfelt and emotional songs seems to harken back to a nice and simple time when America was bathed in a pastoral haze of sunshine and simplicity. To achieve their unique and homespun organic sound, Hem utilizes acoustic and electric instrumentation that takes the listener to a place where one can truly escape the everyday hectic drudgery of the rat race and chill out. In this ho hum world of musical dreck, I highly recommend listening to Hem! See them live if you can. Excellent musicianship!
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Format: Audio CD
Sally Ellyson's heavenly voice, unaccompanied, quietly singing a lilting lullabye opens the masterpiece of an album that is Rabbit Songs.
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 ›
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