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Hem write carefully crafted, dream-like songs that are almost impossible to place exactly where they’ve come from or even in what era they might have been recorded. You can hear a subtle country twang, the storytelling simplicity of great folk music, and a touch of Tin Pan Alley sophistication. They at times recall the emotionally stirring sweep of movie music from an age when the best pictures were shot in Cinemascope and orchestras crowded onto sound stages to perform the scores. These tunes are so immediately involving, sometimes so soothingly familiar, that you’ll insist you know them – and love them – already. Hem exists very much in the here and now, but always manages to evoke the timeless.
The ten-year old quartet — vocalist Sally Ellyson, pianist Dan Messé, guitarists Gary Maurer and Steve Curtis — hails from Brooklyn, New York. However, they conjure up such vivid, often pastoral settings and restless, lonesome characters in their songs, you may suspect that they long ago discovered some fantastic, secret portal in an old borough building that instantly transports them from their urban environs to a wide open prairie far, far away. Although Messé, Maurer and Curtis individually and jointly contribute material to Hem’s repertoire, their vision is remarkably unified. As Ellyson, who channels all their imagery, explains, “Each song is its own world. They really show an amazing ability, that I don’t think everyone has, to create a world in song after song that you can become so connected to, that brings you such deep feelings — pain, joy, sorrow.” Hem will be releasing their 6th studio album, Departure and Farewell, in early 2013. Their most recent album is Funnel Cloud.