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In Your Arms Again by John Hammond

Like the name of the record company, listening to this music one can imagine a bluesman playing on the edge of a whiskey-soaked, country back porch during the dusk as the shadows grow longer until darkness consumes the shack and then the man until only the music remains hovering in the air. It is the fading of an Americana that no longer exists and what remains is nostalgia of how things might have been. The ghost of a musician is John Hammond, a lifelong New Yorker who has played, recorded or crossed paths with John Lee Hooker, Duane Allman and The Band. And like his father, a legendary folk and jazz impresario, who promoted certain musicians as archetypes of an authentic tradition, Hammond promotes his American roots vision by playing mostly other people’s songs as his own. And he plays them convincingly in a time standing still, museum format of an album entitled "In Your Arms Again."

However one interprets the authenticity or nostalgia of these blues, the music is simple, lovingly reconstructed, quite beautiful and passionate. Hammond has a gritty, weary gravelly voice that articulates the intrinsic pain or joy in each song. On ‘Evil,’ Hammond menacingly warns a traveling husband that "another mule is kicking in your stall" so "you better watch your happy home." In ‘It Serves Me Right to Suffer,’ he speaks of his woman coming home just as he goes to work. Ray Charles’ well known gem, ‘I Got a Woman,’ done in an appropriate sprightly manner. His own composed ‘I’ll Be In Your Arms Again’ is a paean to good lovin’, while ‘I’m Leaving’ is a bitter rant about the meanest woman with the "blood-shot eyes" that he’s ever seen. The album closes with ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,’ just as Dylan did on "John Wesley Harding." It’s as if the night as arrived, and a lullaby is needed to mend the day’s work and pain. And then the scene fades to black, and the ghost disappears.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: John Hammond
  • CD Title: In Your Arms Again
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Back Porch Records
  • Tracks: Jitterbug Swing, I Got a Woman, I’ll Be In Your Arms Again, I’m Leaving, A Fool for You, Evil, Come To Find Out, You Got Me Cryin’, It Serves Me Right To Suffer, Moanin’ For My Baby, My Baby’s Gone, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  • Musicians: John Hammond (guitar), Marty Ballou (bass), Stephen Hodges (percussion)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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