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Rabbit Songs
     

Rabbit Songs

4.6 8
by Hem
 

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The Hem story began with a homemade tape of Sally Ellyson singing lullabies, sent in response to a want ad in The Village Voice, and so begins their lovely, haunting debut, with a fragment of Ellyson cooing the blues-tinged lament "Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please" from that cassette. The Brooklyn group's homespun, easygoing folk music, occasionally fleshed out

Overview

The Hem story began with a homemade tape of Sally Ellyson singing lullabies, sent in response to a want ad in The Village Voice, and so begins their lovely, haunting debut, with a fragment of Ellyson cooing the blues-tinged lament "Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please" from that cassette. The Brooklyn group's homespun, easygoing folk music, occasionally fleshed out by orchestration, made Rabbit Songs an instant hit with the NPR crowd when the public radio network championed the disc on air and on its web site. The band's sunny luck, however, belies the album's moody, melancholy songs, which capture heartache and loneliness. Echoes of the Cowboy Junkies or Joni Mitchell drift within these grooves, but Ellyson's sweet, sorrow-hung voice and the lovely musical arrangements, rich with piano, mandolin, pedal steel, and tinkling glockenspiel, give Hem a distinctive sound with its own resonance. On the mournful "When I Was Drinking," she recalls a relationship lost to excess, the twang of pedal steel reinforcing her bluesy moan. "I should wake up this town/ My heart's on fire," she quietly announces in "Leave Me Here" but you can hear the resignation that forecasts the song's about-face, and sure enough, Ellyson snuffs out early expectations as she croons, "Tonight love feels nothing like heaven/Don't leave me here." Things look up a bit on "Idle (The Rabbit Song)," a measured celebration of love -- momentary, at least -- and the gorgeous string backing will certainly have you swooning. Hem's world may be full of half-empty glasses, but these warmly wrought songs and Ellyson's soothing voice make for some of the brightest music news of 2002.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Travis Drageset
Quoted as wanting to make a record "we could love the rest of our lives," Hem spent a year on this collection. The idea was to combine their love of traditional American music with the lushness of the occasional 18-piece orchestra, a good choice considering the sweet, crystalline quality of the vocal work by lead singer Sally Ellyson. Ellyson had never sung professionally before, but answered an ad in The Village Voice with a cassette of lullabies she'd recorded for a friend's child, and the set begins with a snippet of what was on that tape -- a few lines unaccompanied from the traditional "Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please." Her voice, untarnished, as it may have been by spending nights on end singing in smoky bars, was worth waiting for. Rabbit Songs' sound is lyrical, melodic, and pure. It was recorded in the old-fashioned, non-digital manner and that devotion to tradition is apparent in each song, whether in simple and sparse arrangements or full of strings and glockenspiel. The songs, which speak of devotion, loss, and voyeurism, don't try to sound old -- they just have an effortlessly timeless appeal. "Betting on Trains," with its simple ebb and flow, is particularly lovely; "When I Was Drinking" speaks knowingly of disappointment, the effects of which are punctuated by swirling pedal steel; and "Horsey" swoons along to the old-time violin work of Carol Sharar like a relic from the past.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/24/2005
Label:
Rounder / Umgd
UPC:
0011661324824
catalogNumber:
613248

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Rabbit Songs 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Norah Jones should take note!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This group is full of fantastic musicians. They play their hearts out and blend superbly. This band must have been made in heaven!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this age of commericialized artists and billboard hits that offer nothing new, I have finally discovered the most refreshing approach to new music in years. Not only are the songs well crafted, the order placement on cd makes you feel you are growing with the band through their music. The lead singer is incredible. Her voice is soft, yet haunting which makes you hang on every lyric as the melody drifts through the room. I can't wait until these guys get to Chicago for a show!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is some of the best music since Joplin and King. Relatable,Relaxing and worth listening to!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most beautiful albums I've heard in years... I heard about HEM in an interview in National Public Radio a short while ago, and ordered the album before there were sound files available online. Definitely check this out, you will be glad you did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Totally relaxing. This group really relates well with each other and the audience! Would like more from them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After hearing NPR's interview with HEM the other day I had to run out and buy the CD. Hems sound is fresh, insightful, and renewing. It's the best new band I've come across in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago