Lyricist/composer Al Hammerman has made quite the career during his years. He has created music for movies and television – crafting songs for TV shows and commercials alike for the likes of Armani and Volkswagen – and has also released four albums of music. So it goes without saying that he has more than carved out a place for himself in the entertainment industry. Early last month, he continued to cement his place in the entertainment industry when he released his fifth album, Just a Dance. The 13-song record is a surprisingly enjoyable offering especially for those who may be less familiar with Hammerman’s work. That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical content proves just as positive to the presentation as the record’s musical content. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album another sleeper hit among this year’s field of new jazz albums and honestly overall albums.
All Hammerman’s recently released fifth album, Just a Dance is an enjoyable new offering that his established audiences will enjoy just as much as those who are less familiar with him and his body of work. That is proven in part through the musical arrangements feature throughout the album. The arrangements are important to examine because they are diverse from beginning to end. The whole thing opens with a catchy work that will engage and entertain fans of the big band works from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., and Peter Cincotti. There is a certain lounge vibe to the arrangement, but it does not cross that line into the cheese factor of so many lounge acts. Rather, the warmth in the arrangement really harkens back to the glory days of big band jazz on the Las Vegas strip when the Rat Pack and others made that place a second home of sorts. On a completely different note, the later entry, ‘Sad Sunny Day’ has more of a pop/jazz hybrid sensibility about it. Its gentle guitar, brushes against the snare and vocals from Erin Bode makes it sound like it belongs on the soundtrack to the classic movie, Breakfast at Tiffanys or maybe another movie from that era. It is in stark contrast to the bigger sound of the album’s opener. As if that is not enough proof of the variety in the album’s musical arrangements, the album’s closer is a country western take of the album’s title song. Yet again here is a work that is starkly unlike anything else on the record. Just as interesting is that the original rendition of this song itself exhibits a certain folk influence alongside Hammerman’s jazz leanings. Between that, the infectious bluesy approach of ‘Break Out The Blues’ and the vintage funk leanings of ‘In LA,’ and of course all of the other jazz sounds throughout the record, the whole offers so much variety for audiences to enjoy. All things considered, the musical content featured throughout the record creates a solid foundation for this album and makes for so much engagement and entertainment in itself. It is just one pat of what makes this record successful. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content enhances the listening experience even more.
The lyrical themes that are featured throughout the album are just as accessible as the album’s musical arrangements. For the most part, the lyrical themes center on the topic of love found and lost. Case in point is the album’s flowing title track. This song is that moment of love found as a couple is out and obviously dancing together for the first time. On another hand, the song could just as easily be considered to perhaps be about a couple enjoying their first dance as a married couple. Regardless, it will definitely catch listeners’ ears. ‘In LA’ is one of the rare digressions from that more common lyrical theme of romance. This song is simply the joy and excitement that someone feels in making that journey to the West Coast’s “City That Never Sleeps.” The horns and the positive sound of vocalist Arvell Keithley’s singing does so well here to translate the noted excitement and happiness that people initially feel upon visiting that big city. On yet another note, ‘Not Sure’ takes audiences back to the noted familiar theme of relationships and romance, but does so in its own unique fashion. In this case, the song’s subject is contemplating whether the woman that he is interested in shares the same feelings for him. What is really great here is the way in which Hammerman’s arrangement serves to help translate the thoughts and emotions going through that man’s mind. The arrangement is a sort of bluesy swing that is just so infectious with its sense of mystery in its sound and stylistic approach. Singer Brian Owens’ vocal delivery style and sound immediately lends itself to comparison to that of Connick and Cincotti. It does just as well as the other arrangements and lyrics to really fully immerse audiences into the album. The lyrics alone — in their simple, clear presentation — show once more, the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. Taking that into account, the lyrical and musical content together in this album makes the album that much more enjoyable. They are still just a portion of what makes the album successful. The sequencing of that content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.
The record’s sequencing is so important because it takes into full account, the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and even the diverse way in which the album’s overreaching lyrical theme was presented. The sequencing ensures that both items keep things changing throughout the album, thus doing even more to keep listeners engaged and entertained. As if that is not enough, the constantly changing musical styles also keep the album’s energy flowing fluidly and changing just enough to create its own interest. Keeping that in mind, the album’s sequencing works with its content to make the album a complete success.
Al Hammerman’s latest album, Just a Dance is a record that will have listeners dancing and enjoying from beginning to end. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements. The arrangements, as noted, are diverse throughout. Yes, there is plenty of jazz here, but there is also some blues, as well as some folk, pop and even country influence exhibited throughout. That constant variance throughout does plenty to keep listeners engaged and entertained. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content adds to the noted engagement and entertainment because it is so accessible. Yes, there really is one overarching theme – that of love found and lost – but it is presented in so many different ways throughout the album. There are some other changes throughout, too, and that does just enough to also help keep things interesting. The sequencing of that overall content takes the noted diversity into full account and ensures the album’s energy keeps flowing throughout while also ensuring the musical styles and ways in which the familiar theme is presented changes from one song to the next. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, this record is just a pleasant overall presentation.
Just a Dance is available now through his own label, WhistleWind. More information on the album is available along with all of Al Hammerman’s latest news at:
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