Fred Hammond, God, Love & Romance
For decades, Fred Hammond has been known as a singer, songwriter and producer who has shaped the sound and style of contemporary gospel music.
Often credited with leading the charge in bringing praise & worship to the African-American church experience, Hammond has been a pioneer in the genre, from his days as a founding member of Commissioned to his work with his Radical for Christ ensemble, and beyond. He has been lauded for his mainstream approach to the sacred, blending traditional musical styles with urban and jazz progressions unlike any other.
It’s no surprise, then, that Fred Hammond would hit a home run with his latest offering, God, Love & Romance, a musical journey exploring relationships – not just between God and man, but also between man and woman. This two-disc set features songs of love directed toward our Heavenly Father, as well as the natural loves of our lives.
Stand-out tracks on God, Love & Romance include the project’s upbeat bass-led lead single, “I Feel Good,” the pop/electronic vibed “Call On Him” (featuring J Moss), and “Amazing Love,” a heartfelt and beautiful worship ballad.
Listeners will also fall in love with “I’m In Love With You,” the easy-to-snap-to type of groove that makes you glad to be in love, or eager to find it. Pay attention to “My Lady and Myself,” an old-school tinged mellow groove marked by ever-changing melodic progressions, as well as “When I Come Home to You,” which is almost like a duet between Fred Hammond and a beautifully melancholy trumpet.
Though celebrated as a two-disc album, there are almost as many skit-styled interludes about relationships as there are actual songs. It clearly makes for a cohesively love-laced project, but after hearing them once, the interludes could easily end up being something to skip over.
And let’s be honest – fans may blush a bit when they hear Hammond ad lib with words like “baby” instead of his usual praise and worship exhortations. Still, his delivery and approach is so authentically “love song” that it’s easy to get lost in the fact that it’s just good music.
To be certain, God, Love & Romance is not for Sunday morning service. Don’t even dream of lumping it into the same musical category as his double-platinum selling Pages of Life: Chapters I and II (1998), or his later works like Purpose By Design (2000) and Free to Worship (2006).
But fans of Hammond’s more envelope-pushing albums, like Somethin’ ’Bout Love (2004) and Love Unstoppable (2009), won’t find this new project as much of a departure from the norm, or the expected “next level.” For them, Hammond is simply a trendsetter, with boundless limits and unpredictable musical exploits.
Either way, there’s no denying the musical mastery Fred Hammond exhibits on God, Love & Romance. He is, at all times, perfectly “gospel,” “soul” and “jazz” – a musical renaissance man. And he proves it again (as if he needed to) on this innovative and impressive album.
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