In Your Arms Again

The veteran bluesman's latest CD provides another strong entry into the 42-year, and around 30-album career. A stripped-down affair recorded in a trio configuration, In Your Arms Again is a simple but elegant exploration of the blues and roosty R&B, well-played by Hammond's guitar, harmonica, and earthy vocals.

In October 2002, Hammond played in Salina, Kansas, at a blues festival held at the Blue Heaven Studio, an old, gothic-style church now used for concerts and recording studio. Hammond loves the acoustics of the place, so he returned there to record the new album. Some of the songs on the album retain a sense of the church-sized ambience.

Continuing his foray into writing some of his own material, began on the 2003 album Ready for Love on which Hammond wrote his first song. On the new album, he contributes two songs, the slide-guitar and harmonica-driven title track and "Come To Find Out."

But compositions from the pens of other writers still make up the core of Hammond's repertoire, and a number of great songwriters are represented on the new album. The excellent "I Got a Woman" salutes the late Ray Charles, as does "Fool For You." Hammond brings out the passionate vocal delivery that Charles could always bring to bear on this version of "I Got a Woman."

Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" is the song which concludes the album. There's a terrific take on the John Lee Hooker tune "Serve Me Right to Suffer." And Willie Dixon's "Evil (Is Going On)" and Jimmy Reed's "You Got Me Crying" are also well-rendered by Hammond.

In Your Arms Again is an enjoyable, straightahead collection of great songs, recorded by a master of his craft. While he doesn't reinvent any wheels on this album, Hammond continues his deserved reputation for musical quality.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director