The Brooklyn Pastoral
We came across this fantastic article from the Brooklyn Rail while looking up Hem, the folk act whose "Half Acre" haunts the recent 'Pay It Forward'-esque tv spot from Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Turns out the octet is based in Brooklyn, and the post-industrial patina of crumbling industry that's gradually returning to nature - Katy Henriksen dubs it "the Brooklyn Pastoral" - is the inspiration for Hem's second album "Eveningland".
Imnotsayin especially likes how Henriksen finds parallels with the traditional poetic view of the bucolic countryside:
"Shepherds, hills, and the idealized countryside are the traditional subjects. Brooklyn, a sprawling mess of streets, apartments, shops, and industrial parks, contains an urban pastoral. There is more concrete and brick here than pasture and sky; the fields are vacant lots, burned out factories, and rooftop views."Perhaps with the wholesale and inevitable Manhattanization of Brooklyn looming (literally) at our doorstep, its easy to romanticize what many define as urban decay and blight. We don't care - the Brooklyn Pastoral is nature's re-greening of Brooklyn, and we'll enjoy it until the last vacant lot is tiled over and the last burned-out plant becomes a shiny condo tower.
Burned-Out Factories, Hem, and the Brooklyn Pastoral (The Brooklyn Rail)
Hem, "Half Acre" on
brooklyn pastoral (Flickr Photoset)
Liberty Mutual spot on YouTube