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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Somethin' 'Bout Love

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Jun
Somethin' 'Bout Love
Sounds like … the guitar-driven, urban R&B gospel Hammond's best known forAt a glance … on the one hand, these songs are in the now-familiar style of R&B-flavored, reflective gospel Hammond pioneered. On the other, this may be his most introspective album yetTrack ListingI Know It Was the Blood (interlude)Celebrate (He Lives)Not Just What You SayPraise Belongs to YouLord We Need Your LoveGod Is a Good God (interlude)Loved on MeA Closer WalkI Will Find a WayLove's in NeedYour Love IsI'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord (interlude)That's WhyIt Just Gets SweeterWhat Can I GiveYour Love Is a WonderHow Do You Love That WayMake Time for LoveYour Name Is Jesus

Fred Hammond's latest album, Somethin' 'Bout Love, follows Speak Those Things (Pages of Life 3). Since Hammond isn't backed by Radical for Christ this time around, the album may remind some listeners of Just Remember, or even I am Persuaded, or Deliverance—albums that preceded the formation of RFC.

The way people see this album will depend on their point of view. For some, this album is more of the now-familiar style of R&B-flavored, funky-but-reflective gospel and praise-and-worship music Hammond pioneered. While there's nothing with the live energy of "Daily Bread" or "That Ain't Nuthin'" from Speak Those Things, it's all good, mostly interesting, and includes some fresh touches here and there. That's a viable point of view.

Others will see Somethin' 'Bout Love as Hammond's most introspective album to date. In his earlier albums, particularly the ones with Radical for Christ, one has the sense that Hammond wrote what the audience needed to hear. This time around, it feels as though he's written what he needs to hear. During a time of personal struggle, including a recent divorce, Hammond's chosen to produce a concept album exploring love: the constancy of God's love toward us, the frailty of our love for him, and the need for us to love one another.

"I Will Find a Way" is easily the most compelling song on the album. It's written from the viewpoint of one who finds his life broken, yet retains hope. Lyrics include: "I've lost some joy/ I've lost some time …/But I will find a way to lift up my hands/I will find a way to worship you Lord/And though my heart is low …/I will find a way to love you more." Beginning with piano and soft strings, the song has a pop feel and builds to a pained but hopeful triumph. "Make Time for Love" is perhaps the most heartbreaking, focusing on the need for a husband and wife to cherish their relationship.

That's not to say the album is focused only on woundedness. "Not Just What You Say" has a strong message for such a laid-back, easy groove. "Praise Belongs to You" features rumbling, funky bass, soaring background vocals, sweet percussion, and a cool, split vamp. "Loved on Me" is an amazing blend of traditional and new classic sounds, featuring meaty lead and guest appearances by Marvin Winans Jr. and Warryn "Baby Dubb" Campbell. It alternates between a retro, quartet-style chorus and a channel tinged with hip-hop.

Marvin Winans, Sr. and Brian McKnight join Hammond for "Lord, We Need Your Love," and Musiq and Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship Choir guest on a sleek version of Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need." Hammond's version includes verses reflecting on current events. Protégé JoAnn Rosario makes an appearance on "Your Love Is." Easy trumpet, prominent percussion, and dreamy vocals give "That's Why" a light, retro feel. "A Closer Walk" has a meditative sensibility.

On the more uptempo side, "It Just Gets Sweeter" and "Your Love Is a Wonder" are light and danceable (although it feels a little weird to have Hammond singing dancing directions on the former). The album includes several interludes, presumably from Hammond's Worship Alive tour. They don't add much, but do provide a touch of more traditional gospel.

There's enough that's new and fresh to make up for the occasionally slow pacing. If you're a diehard fan, you'll definitely want to add Somethin' 'Bout Love to your stack of Hammond CDs. Even if you're not, there's a lot of variety and insight here. It's an especially intimate portrait of this respected artist—and a 19-track journey through trust, pain, and love.