In his solo debut, Old 97's bassist Murry Hammond has crafted a loving, 17-track effort that cuts a delightfully jagged path through various traditional music styles. Known for train songs, rootsy rambles and good-natured ditties in his day job, Hammond - using only acoustic instruments - covers similar territory here, with a spiritual, wistful vibe swirling through this low-key stunner.
The original "Lost at Sea" is certainly clever, catchy and "poppy" enough to have fit perfectly on an Old 97's album, but it is followed with A.P. Carter's mournful "I Will Never Marry," featuring just Hammond's high-lonesome singing and a pump organ. Two distinctive versions of "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" are offered, a somewhat peppy instrumental take and a creepier vocal version, which begins with Hammond whispering a bible verse. Originals such as "Next Time Take the Train" and the album-ending "I Believe, I Believe" stand along nicely with covers of "As You Roll Across the Trestle" and "Rainbow's End," all four showcasing Hammond's sweet, subtle vocal style.
Fans of the Old 97's should find a lot to like about this, but anyone should be able to appreciate the wonderful, well-done music Hammond has created on his own.