Love Unstoppable by Fred Hammond 2009 Verity Records
Throughout the project, in the middle of his adlibs, he randomly inserts that question (or is it a statement?) for your listening pleasure. Ah, Hammond is back and his work is usually entertaining, occasionally quirky, and always uplifting. What!? You haven’t heard his new release? Well, keep reading…
While not the dynamic manifesto that Hammond’s double CD release of 1998 was, there is plenty to like here. Hammond always manages to give a fresh take on what could easily become musical clichés, and he is at his best when it sounds like he’s having fun. In Love Unstoppable Hammond is having loads of fun, and that makes it fun to listen. Put this release on your playlist for a road trip, and then be careful of the speed limit—at least for the first few songs.
Let’s divide the album in half; I love the first half. The first song—“Awesome God”—is an instant classic, toe-tapping, Black-Gospel-meets-funkiness song that is both enjoyable and useable for a church setting. Almost too quickly, Hammond segues into the equally pleasing, medium tempo groove, “Nobody Like You Lord”, which is followed by the quirky but extremely catchy “Find No Fault.” (Reader Beware: you’re going to get “Find No Fault” stuck in your head for days.) The first half of the album continues with the beautiful and very worshipful “Lost in You Again” and—after a short solo piece by guest soloist Michael Bethany—launches into the fun, “Best Thing that Ever Happened.” The first six songs on the album are worth the price of admission. Hammond’s superb adlibbing skills are bonus.
I can only endure the second half of the album. It kicks off with the worst song of the project, a duet with John P. Kee entitled, “They That Wait”; but that sounds like it should be entitled, “Everybody’s Trying Too Hard.” From there, the album descends into a mesh of forgettable, R&B-wannabe grooves that never quite seem to gel to my ears. Though Hammond tries to end on a high note with “Happy”, he doesn’t quite succeed in restoring the momentum of the first six songs. Disappointingly, even the “What!?” disappears in the second half of the album.
From a listening standpoint, it almost sounds as if the two halves of the album were recorded—or at least written and conceived—at different times. Never mind that; the first half is strong enough to warrant a spot in your musical library. To those looking for sources of new repertoire for worship services, “Awesome God” and “Lost in You Again” are musts; and the other songs in the first half of the album deserve careful consideration. For those who just want a new set of grooves with which to face life, Fred Hammond has delivered. If the last songs of the album had been anywhere near as strong as the first songs, this would be an instant classic. As it is, it’s still worth listening; and as you listen, pause in your spontaneous motion to see if you can find every “What!?” on the project.