First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
There always has been a certain degree of complexity and sophistication to Hemís work, but with the release of its third, proper studio effort Funnel Cloud, the Brooklyn-based band has taken its music to new heights. Although its songs are richly textured, rarely do they rise above a whisper, and of the 14 tracks featured on the affair, only the sweeping majesty of Iíll Dream of You Tonight, the Elton John-inspired country-pop of Too Late to Turn Back Now, and the Memphis soul of The Pills Stopped Working come close to making some noise.
Regardless, the cinematic scope of Hemís arrangements contains a sense of drama that makes the groupís material wholly compelling. Each sound that emanates from within Funnel Cloud ó the piano and mandolin that gently skip across the surface of He Came to Meet Meís love-struck refrains; the delicate orchestration and subtle shadings that grace the title track; and the fragile wisps of pedal steel that curl around Reservoir, for example ó seems as if it was placed with deliberate precision. Where other meticulously crafted endeavors inevitably have succumbed to bland sterility, however, Funnel Cloud blossoms and thrives.
As with Hemís prior outings, itís Sally Ellysonís gorgeous voice that serves as the ensembleís not-so-secret weapon. She effortlessly conveys the intense longing that pervades Not California, the weariness that clings to Weíll Meet Along the Way, and the bittersweet reflection of Great Houses of New York, making the emotions inherent within the collectiveís compositions palpable. Most of Hemís innovations occur during the first half of the album, while the latter portion finds the group delving back into more roots-oriented fare. Nevertheless, its fetishistic approach to using an organic recording process, one that is utterly devoid of digital enhancements, bathes Funnel Cloud in a warm, yet haunting intimacy that not only binds the compositions together but also makes them impossible to resist. Ĺ
Funnel Cloud is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box