Hemifran Hymns From Home

Hemifran is a music label and distribution company based in Sweden and is responsible for marketing and shipping many of the Americana releases you read about here and on other publications. The artists they push and promote range from household names (well, in my household) to independent spirits who’ve managed to conjure up a disc’s worth of music and offered it to the world.
Like most labels Hemifran occasionally gather up a handful of tunes and paste them into what one used to call a sampler. Their two previous offerings, “I Like It Better Here – Music From Home” and “I Like It Better Here – Some More Music From Home” have featured artists such as Jackson Browne and Graham Nash along with some lesser known but at times tremendous artists. Despite their releases being chock full of contemporary acts these two discs did display an engaging love for the singer songwriter feel of the seventies and this carries on with their third in the series.
“That Thing That’s a Whole Lot Bigger Than This – Hymns From Home” is a lovingly crafted artefact based on a suggestion by Greg Copeland that the third compilation consist of “secular hymns,” or songs that “have to do with “That Thing That’s a Whole Lot Bigger Than This.” To this end we have a selection of songs that in the main delve back to the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Young, Steve Goodman and others of that ilk. Copeland himself appears twice while Steve Noonan, Jack Tempchkin, JD Souther and Judy Collins all get a piece apiece. Finger picking story songs predominate with several styles on show but with the likes of I See Hawks in LA and the power pop presence of Anthony Crawford’s On The Hill this is not a simple folk album. JD Souther’s On The Day Nobody Likes You glides from a Bo Diddley beat to glossy Boz Scaggs like soul shuffle while Judy Collins offers a hymn like paean to the power of song that evokes celestial choirs.
As to the theme of secular hymns all is revealed in the liner notes where each performer explains their choice. You can read these on the Hemifran website. Better still they have very kindly offered five copies of the album to give away here. If you want a copy all you have to do is let me know via the comments below with a promise to come back and tell us what your favourite song on the album was and why. First five to respond with a cast iron promise get the album.

I See Hawks In LA – If You Lead I Will Follow


Various Artists. I Like it Better Here -Music From Home

The first release from the Hemifran label (who are one of the prime distributors and publicists of Americana in Sweden) is an odd affair. To launch the label not only have they reached across the Atlantic they’ve also delved into the past and come up with a collection that celebrates the classic seventies era of singer/songwriters. The inclusion of folk such as Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Jack Tempchin, Steve Noonan and Greg Copeland, all bona fide paid up members of the Laurel Canyon set is impressive. In addition some lesser-known names of the time and some contemporary continental artists pitch in with some very simpatico styled songs.
Of course some would argue that much of the music of this era was bland, drug fuelled narcissism or that it paved the road to excess as exemplified by the uber group that was the Eagles. However much that was recorded then remains vital and the best parts of this collection recall the optimistic and indeed groundbreaking sounds that continue to fuel much of today’s Americana.
The opening song, This is My Country, by Joel Rafael, recorded live, features Crosby and Nash on vocals and is the most nostalgic song here. Recalling that pairs’ glory days, the sound of Nash protesting hasn’t changed one iota over the years. The remainder of the album sounds more contemporary while maintaining the innocence, anger and values that the likes of CSN&Y espoused. Jack Tempchin (writer of the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling) contributes a fine rootsy acoustic blues song. Greg Copeland recalls the edgier side of L.A. on 27 Red House Road while Steve Noonan‘s Goin’ Home relates a tale of him, Greg Copland and Jackson Browne building a spooky urban scarecrow to keep drug addicts away from their door. Both songs are superb. With some fine up tempo country rock from Mikael Persson (Home Sweet Home) and the excellent Steve Stills styled acoustic jab of Home Nights by Sugarcane Jane the newcomers more than hold their own. The album ends as it begins with a live song from a seventies survivor, Jackson Browne, with a great rendition of The Rebel Jesus that demonstrates that some of these guys are still as vital and significant as they were then.
Check out the website here
And listen to Jack Tempchin here