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Albert Hammond, Jr. Yours to Keep Review

by Zane Ewton

The debut solo album from the Strokes' Albert Hammond, Jr. is a successful departure from his day job. The singer/songwriting nut apparently doesn't fall far from the mid-seventies one-hit-wonder tree.

By taking what the Strokes do well, scraping off the late-night grime, and not being so disturbingly hip. Yours to Keep becomes a surprisingly deep little rock and roll record. Hammond's smooth voice is sweet and soulful. His guitar rings like a bell, but it is his voice that gets top billing. He has never been a guitar ace, so extended solos will not be found. Just taught pop/rock songs.

The great tracks like "In Transit" lead in with criss-crossing guitars and fall into choruses reminiscent of the Flaming Lips less adventurous moments. That is actually quite a good thing, as the mixture of driving indie guitar and orchestral pop is a pleasant mix. A touch of the Beatles, mellow 70's pop/rock and some ukulele round out Yours to Keep as a top to bottom success.

Other tracks like "Everyone Gets a Star" could have been keepers on a Strokes record. Fans of Hammond's day job will obviously eat this up. Anyone who may be reluctant to enjoy that New York five-some will find Yours to Keep to be a wonderful surprise.

It is always sketchy when guitar players step out to do a solo album. Something screams, "I need more attention than the pouting haircut that fronts my band." Many guitarists do it up right. Specifically those who are crucial to their band's sounds. Others wallow in "experimental" or just copy their band's last release.

Hammond does an admirable job of mixing his band's sound while branching into new territories. A good mix of artistic merit and commercial appeal. Isn't that the goal of most of these "solo" albums anyway?

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