Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Funnel Cloud

It seems only right that on a blog named, in part, for a Hem song (The blog is also named for a primary source I often reference.), I post a little review Hem’s latest album, Funnel Cloud. It would have been more appropriate if that review had come out when Funnel Cloud did in September, but I’m apparently unable to keep track of such things as album release dates. Oh, well. I have it now, and I can say that it’s worth the wait. (The album, I mean, not this review.)

When I listen to a Hem album, I often feel as if I’ve been talking in my sleep. I feel as if I’ve been talking in my sleep and while I was babbling away my darkest secrets into the folds of my blankets, songwriters Dan Messé and Gary Maurer were sitting next to the bed with little notebooks and quiet pencils and then stealing away in the night with my most intimate thoughts and emotions. They transform these intimacies into lush songs that feel as if they sweep in off of the fields I grew up among and wrap themselves around my heart instantly; sometimes they are wrapped too tightly. Sometimes they squeeze. Even though I’ve played their album Eveningland until it’s a tiny little musical pulp in my mind, there are still moments that I start to listen to the album and have to turn it off because it feels too close.

Still, I’m a little abashed that Funnel Cloud is full of songs that already, two days after I first purchased it, remind me of people and emotions that I never expect to find in music. Surely, I’m not so suggestible as that. Or maybe I am, because the songs on this album have, once again, convinced me that Hem knows all of my secrets. They've convinced me with songs like “Not California,” which evokes for me the truth of feeling displaced, something that goes hand in hand with living so, so far from home. “I Dream of You Tonight” made me cry on first listening for being so full of hope for things and people that feel so close and so far all at once. The title song, “Funnel Cloud,” feels like the soundtrack of this moment in my life, when everything is so temporary and yet so enduring and encompassing. Further still, the overall feel of the album, which is just similar enough to past Hem offerings to be familiar and gratifying but different enough to be interesting, makes me feel like the texture of my inner life has been put to music, and that’s exactly the disconcerting comfort I’ve come to expect from Hem. Funnel Cloud did not let me down.


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