CD Funnel Cloud (CD 304581),
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1. We'll Meet Along the Way
2. He Came to Meet Me
3. Not California
4. Funnel Cloud
5. Too Late to Turn Back Now
6. Pills Stopped Working, The
7. Hotel Fire
8. Great Houses of New York
10. Old Adam
11. Burnt-Over District, The
13. I'll Dream of You Tonight
14. Almost Home
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CD 306052
Dan Messe; Gary Maurer; Gary Maurer; Dan Messe
Dan Messe; Gary Maurer; Gus Oberg; Patrick Billard
Hem: Dan Messe (vocals, various instruments); Steve Curtis (vocals); George Rush (bass instrument); Bob Hoffnar (drums, percussion); Dawn Landes, Gary Maurer (background vocals); Sally Ellyson, Heather Zimmerman.
Personnel: James Iha, Amy Helm, Sally Ellyson (vocals); Gary Maurer (guitar, mandolin, harmonica); Steve Curtis (guitar, mandolin); Bob Hoffnar (dobro); Heather Zimmerman (violin); Allison Cornell (fiddle, viola); Mary Wooten (cello); Peter Hess (flute, clarinet); Richard Heckman (flute, oboe, English horn); Matt Willis (flute); Jon Diamond (harmonica); Peck Almond (clarinet); Tom Hutchinson (trombone); Dan Messe (piano, celesta, glockenspiel); Dawn Landes (glockenspiel); Mark Brotter (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Gary Maurer; Geoff Sanoff.
Recording information: LoHo Studios; STratosphere Sound, New York, NY.
Photographer: Carylann Loeppky.
Arranger: Greg Pliska.
The third album by neo-countrypolitan folk-rockers Hem (not counting NO WORD FROM TOM, a collection of rarities and cast-offs), FUNNEL CLOUD is the album that fully integrates the band's various influences. Subtle touches of Fairport Convention- and Nick Drake-style English folk mesh with atmospheric soundscapes that recall the gentler moments of Grandaddy and the Flaming Lips, while the windswept urban Americana that has marked the band's sound since the beginning remains firmly in place.
Sally Ellyson's warm vocals--evoking a whiskey-drinking version of Everything But the Girl's Tracey Thorn--are at the album's heart, but the songs are decorated with a rich tapestry of unusual instruments that make the simple, folk-based songs more complex without seeming overstuffed. At its finest moments, as on "The Pills Stopped Working," FUNNEL CLOUD is right there with the best of contemporary indie country and folk, and its rigorous song structures and unapologetic pop sense give the album an epic scope akin to Wilco's YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT or R.E.M.'s AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE.
Spin (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The homey indie-pop tunes on the band's third studio full-length come encased in gorgeous mini-orchestral arrangements..."
Dirty Linen (p.66) - "Hem's sensibility fuses conservatory urbanity with rural Americana in a way that is not only convincing, but more than occasionally drop-dead gorgeous."
No Depression (p.118) - "[S]inger Sally Ellyson's serene, clarion soprano is indispensable to Hem's sound, the songs themselves often have the enchanting qualities of stand-alone American standards."
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Nettwerk CD 306052
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