MUSE: a review of Hem’s new album, “Departure and Farewell”

By Sydney Moyer, Staff Writer

Hem has always remained up there on my list of top bands to fall asleep to, and with the newly released Departure and Farewell, their sixth studio album, they reaffirm their position.

Full of softly whispered lyrical content about loss and heartbreak, the album quietly winds its way through its rotation steady and predictable as a sleep cycle. While perhaps the descriptor “predictable” is generally connoted as negative when it comes to new music, in this case, it’s comforting. It’s the soothing sense of having one’s average expectations met exactly and nothing more.

Hem’s biggest claim to fame is perhaps Liberty Mutual’s use of their song “Half Acre” (off of 2002’s Rabbit Songs) in a successful spot that ran frequently on network television last year. The commercial featured several vignettes of strangers saving each other from small daily disasters in a pay-it-forward type capacity, and Hem’s timeless soft folk served as the perfect soundtrack for such a scene.

When listening to Hem, one can’t help but conjure images of grassy fields softly blowing in the breeze or something equally stock-image folky. It’s definitely not what one would think a band from Brooklyn would sound like, but maybe Hem’s sound was a solace, a refuge from the noise of the city. At least, that’s what it’s become for me.

Hem is bringing their whispery folk magic to The Sinclair in Cambridge on June 1. Listen to a playlist of their music below.

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