Friday, December 17, 2004

Hem Those Seasons

My friend Nick just created a post that talks about how he associates a Yo La Tengo album with two seasons. Here is an album that I think fits well with Buffalo falls and winters (reprinted from a Canisius College Griffin review I did last year):

Hem, Rabbit Songs (2000)

Many critics have punched themselves for how long it took them to recognize what a well-crafted album Hem’s Rabbit Songs is. However, with songs that seem to be associable more to a sense of space rather than time, it is no wonder that this New York-via-somewhere-in-the-Midwest band was accidentally passed over a few times before its proper recognition.

Singer Sally Ellyson offers an appropriately unadorned, yet convincing, interpretation of pianist/songwriter Dan Messé’s floating folk songs. The standout tune is “Idle (The Rabbit Song),” which features a hypnotic texture, constructed with pizzicato strings and nimble brushwork on the drums. Messé demonstrates a classic subtlety and gentle sorrow in his wording, as demonstrated in “Halfacre,” where he pens “I am holding half an acre/ torn from the map of Michigan/ and folded in this scrap of paper/ is the land I grew up in.”

Guitarist Gary Maurer teamed up with Messé to produce the album and the two spared no cost or effort to get it right, incorporating strings into most of the songs, and even working in a rich French horn solo in “Sailor.” This is the album that Norah Jones might have made if she were the daughter of Pete Seeger, rather than Ravi Shankar.

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