They sound like they should be making their brand of dreamy folk music over the smoldering embers of an Appalachian campfire instead of on the stop of a brownstone in their residential Brooklyn, but Hem’s music blurs place as well as time.
Much of Hem’s muscle comes as much from the sweet crystal clear vocals of Sally Ellyson as it does from the potently restrained songs of Dan Messe. During the recording of Funnel Cloud, Messe’s home was flooded during the recording sessions by hurricane Ivan and his father died a week later, the themes of tragedy, hope and acceptance run throughout the lyrics and the feel of the songs. Assisted by a 21-piece orchestra, Ollabelle singer Amy Helm and Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, the music fills in the spaces between the silences at just the right time for emotional impact. Funnel Cloud is a glisteningly sparse and melancholy work that show Hem continues to deliver.