The greatest story associated with Hem involves Sally Ellyson, the contemporary Americana band’s lead vocalist: When she answered the band’s ad in the Village Voice, she wasn’t even a singer! But a demo of unaccompanied lullabyes won her a spot with the band and led to the stellar Rabbit Songs.
“Her friends knew she could sing and they said she should do something with her voice,” band leader Dan Messe told the New York Daily News. “As soon as I heard that voice, I understood my songs.”
With their third full-length Funnel Cloud, Hem take on themes of fear and innocence. It’s enough to make the most jaded pause for thought.
Hem – “Not California” (MP3)
And then there’s Hem’s unexpected turn as commercial stars, with “Half Acre” providing the soundtrack to a montage of people helping people.
Up until the voice over, this clip passes muster as a touching video. Some of the YouTubers are literally crying over it.
But let’s not get all sappy. Here’s the Same Ten Questions We Always Ask, lovingly ripped off from Actors Studio:
SALLY ELLYSON, HEM
1. What is your favorite word?
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
4. What turns you off?
5. What is your favorite curse word?
6. What sound or noise do you love?
7. What sound or noise do you hate?
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
TAP DANCE INSTRUCTOR
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you
arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“ALL ARE WELCOME HERE. “
If you’re new to this whole countrypolitan sound, start with Rabbit Songs. Guaranteed to lower blood pressure 20 points.
Some live Hem for you:
Hem – “Betting On Trains” (Live In The UK 2005) (MP3)
Hem – “Hollow” (Live In The UK 2005) (MP3)
Hem – “Carry Me Home” (Minnesota Public Radio 2005) (MP3)
Hem – “Tennessee Waltz” (Live In Ashville, NC 2003) (MP3)
Catch the band on tour this fall (Irving Plaza tomorrow night!), and hear more new songs here.