Speak Those Things: POL Chapter 3
In his first solo effort in a minute, Fred Hammond continues flipping through the Pages of Life. We're on Chapter 3 Speak Those Things.Producer: Fred Hammond
album release date: September 10, 2002
In the way that only he can, Hammond manages to simultaneously maintain musically continuity and break new ground. Never straying too far from his mix of old soul and new-born soul, Hammond's effectiveness is found in his focus on scripture and worship coupled with a dynamic musical mix. This time he's out front vocally, but he keeps his crew close by.
The first single, "You Are My Daily Bread" brings the strength of the whole clan in the mix. Guitar by Paul Jackson Jr. sprinkles the broader strokes by Baltimore's Mo' Horns. Drummer Marvin McQuitty and percussion by Darius Fentress lay the foundation for the background vocal that includes a contribution from The Straight Gate Mass Choir. The repetitive vocal gives this song a stealth complexity. It seems simple but it's really not the casual listener will never notice. Running right into "Lord of the Harvest" makes for an elongated praise and worship set a welcomed one. Congas by Fentress encourage this one along. In this pair of up-tempo jumpers, the potent chemistry of the writing team of Hammond, Noel Hall and Kim Rutherford is evident.
Rutherford and Hammond get together again brilliantly on "That Ain't Nothin'", a funk driven quartet song, if you can follow. Add to the mix some classic R&P background vocals as well
as familiar horn and bass lines, and you have, well "That Ain't Nothin'"! The Stevie Wonder turnaround will hook you the first time. Lyrics emphatically state that there is nothing too large or difficult for God to handle, and lists several biblical scenarios to remind us. Fred himself hits the bass here, with Joey Woolfalk on guitar.
Speak Those Things: POL Chapter 3
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"We Are More Than Able" takes a spin off of other R&B classics. An intro that is reminiscent of Cheryl Lynn, and Hammond's lead vocal made me say, "Sing Stevie!" more than once. Hall's Rhodes and Mo' Horns trumping in the background will flash you back for certain.
Shifting the worship tone a bit to the slow "Praise Him Through The Night" encourages us to press on through moments of darkness. Musically the song plugs along steadily, as the effort to pump your own self up often begins slowly, but by the first vamp seems like everyone's got the vision and the strength is found. Certainty comes, if you press through. The Singletons appear here on backing vocals, and Detroit's Heavenly String Orchestra sweeps the string lines.
"Everything To Me" is a wonderful circle of a ballad penned by Hammond, Hall, and RFCer PamKenyon Donald. Hammond, Tommie Walker and Gary Crawford collaborate on "I Will Say". Woolfalk and Hammond do a sweet guitar/bass dance on the floor that Hall provides with the Rhodes and organ.
Mary Mary makes a guest appearance on the Warryn Campbell produced head-bobber "Great", with the companion jam "When It Gets Down To It" being a mid-tempo groove with nice harmonies and arrangements going on underneath.
Up-tempo jam "My, My, My God Is Good" features a fun Run DMC tinged flow by Hammond and RFCer Bryan J. Pratt. Tim Bowman sits in on guitar for this set.
Shea Norman and Joann Rosario join in on "A Song Of Strength". Masterful balladry that expresses to the individual as well as to a collective nation, to hold on, Hammond even shouts out to NYC in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
On "He Is Not Just A Man" Rutherford and co-writer Charles Laster weigh the contrasts of all the things that God is. Both lamb and Lion of Judah, baby and King He is so much more than we could ever perceive Him to be. Strings led by Steven Ford noticeably change the scape of an already powerful song. Hammond's lead vocal will tug at your heart and spirit as he audibly avails his heart for worship.
"Show Me Your Face" addresses that time of picking up the pieces and moving on. There are many situations where we are done wrong, and seek God for healing. This song seems to be more about when we are the culprit, and how to repent and appeal to God to draw us in that we might be healed of our own devices. Ford arranges and directs strings here, and helps illustrate the precariousness of our effort to do anything right.
For the Face to Face camp the usual exceptional writing and instrumentation is fortified here by the prominence of Hammond's vocal dexterity. Hammond stays right "there" where we have grown to know and love him. He simply in a real way addresses the fragility of the human effort to be and do right. And through worship, blankets it in the only thing that can cover us anyway His love.
reviewed by Melanie Clark —
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