I love that music is malleable and that we are able to reinvent styles and genres and introduce sounds that may never have been recorded in a song before. It’s exciting when musicians take risks musically, especially when Spirit led. But the thing that I love the most about Fred Hammond is that a Fred Hammond album sounds like a Fred Hammond album! Uncle Fred never fails to disappoint when it comes to big vocals, big instrumentation and big songs! I’m pleased to say that all of this is evident in his latest album, titled “I will trust”, which he released in November 2014 following a double knee replacement. The operation left him wheelchair-bound and emotionally wounded. He shared: “I have two nine-inch slits going down my legs to remind me that I had to have a traumatic event. I had to learn how to walk again, but I did it and trusted God and that’s kind of what makes this album special. All of the emotional trauma that came with it.” On listening to it, one can easily pick up that the event has served to inspire and motivate the worship leader/songwriter to write fresh songs that speak of hope, perseverance and putting all your trust in the Lord. As always, the songs are Bible based and infused with the choral based Gospel sounds that we’ve come to know and love from him. I experienced moments of deep reflection, some of jubilant celebration and even moments where I wanted to shout out “Yes! Amen!”
Track 1 is through and through a Gospel praise track. Titled “Festival of Praise” it is the perfect album opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. I found myself moving into various stages of worship with each song. The album’s second song, “All the way” has a reggae feel to it and speaks about pressing on. I love the bridge of this song! You can’t help but feel encouraged and determined to run the race well. Another bridge that I loved is that of the song “His perfect love.” It says ‘Something ‘bout the love of Jesus/I was lost, it came and rescued me!’ Wow – the vocals and the lyric make it impossible to listen to that without something stirring in your spirit!
Another favorite praise track on this album is “Take me to the water.” With a cool bass line, horns and a ‘funk’ vibe, this song is another one of those “typical Hammond” tracks that hits the nail on the head for those who love traditional Gospel. I also enjoyed “Try Jesus” which is a kind of an evangelical song, encouraging listeners to give Jesus a try with a bridge that says‘if you’ve tried everything/and everything has failed/come on and try my Jesus.’ Yes! Amen! “You keep on blessing me,” again with the funk and with a really catchy melody, resonated in my heart with the season I am in. It is a song of gratitude to a good God, in true Hammond style.
“Only the comforter” is a really amazing ballade that speaks about our friend, Holy Spirit. This song has a contemporary rock sound to it and is basically the story telling of Acts 2 – the coming of Holy Spirit. I highly recommend it (among others), if you’re curious to have a listen to what Uncle Fred wants to share with this album. And okay, I’m going to say it: Hammond sounds a bit like John Legend on this track! I admire that Uncle Fred is able to adapt his vocal to compliment the style of the song he is ministering in – whether it be by adding some grit, belting out big notes, bringing it down to a passionate croon or even delivering some old school rap – he has a skill that only the really experienced and talented can attempt.
“I owe it all to you” is another song of gratitude and recognizes God as everything and all! Hammond’s almost bluesy, choral flavor on this song drives it home, in my opinion. This track stirred feelings of thankfulness and is one that I would definitely put on repeat! It is really fitting as the closer of the album.
I’ve saved the best for last: Title track, “I will trust.” Well, where do I begin! The ballad features Hammond’s daughter, Brieann Hammond, accompanying him in beautiful soprano. The track opens with Uncle Fred emotively singing about a time when he believed that he could do things on his own. ‘Some put their trust in earthly possessions/But in the end it won’t bring them through.’ In a buildup the father and daughter tag team sing the Proverbs 3:5-6 message: “I will trust in the name of the Lord!” Wow!
Hammond fans, this one’s for you! Hammond newbies, this is the album to cut your teeth with! This album is a testimony of how God brought Fred Hammond through a difficult time in his life. The songs are bold declarations that refer to the amazing loyalty and love that our Daddy has for all of us. All in all it has been a pleasurable listening experience and has left me feeling rejuvenated, spiritually filled and so thankful for His faithfulness.
This review was originally written for and published in Gateway News