Once again recording in the pristine setting of St. Paul’s Church, Sacramento’s Ross Hammond laid down tracks for another solo acoustic guitar album. Follow Your Heart is set for release February 27, 2017, continuing Hammond’s tilt toward intimate and personal performances that reveal a side apart from the epic works he’s made in the recent past.
It’s hard not to think of Follow your Heart as a continuation of sorts to another solo acoustic set of songs from Hammond, 2015’s Flight, but Follow Your Heart is subdued set of nine originals intended to capture a moment of time in Hammond’s life. In an easygoing, ‘storytelling’ style that more often than not resembles Appalachian folk music Follow Your Heart is really less about Hammond’s ample guitar chops and more about the mental images and memories it might conjure up.
The buzzy sound of a resonator slide guitar does nothing but add a rustic character to wordless tales that Hammond tell through his instrument. The dark-hued “Sinner Man” and “Blues For Rusty Moses” suggest Delta blues in their rural spirit even though no blues patterns come forth.
“Of Course We Will (Follow Your Heart)” follows a more hopeful path, a folky, fingerpicked tune that brings to mind Leo Kottke’s celebrated solo guitar ventures. Hammond plays both the fingerpicking and strumming (rhythm) parts of “Whirlpool” together on a twelve-string guitar. “Life In 3D” shuffles on the resonator, grooving on a single but sparkly chord.
“How Does A Monkey Write Its Song” is a deceptively simple melody that ambles along gracefully on a meandering path. “Blues For Bob Feathers” ventures into bluegrass territory, and “I Ain’t Scared of Your Jail” is desolate but also dynamic, subtly moving from one chapter of a book to another.
A back-to-basics record that flows forth with natural ease, Follow Your Heart is Ross Hammond practicing what he’s preaching with the title.
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