The writer in question is Ben Hammond and his new CD, [Reasonably] Honest, has ten tracks that weave in and out of jazz, rock, reggae, rap and pop while staying true to a sound that is definitely Ben Hammond. Hammond sounds, vocally, like Jamie Cullum and John Mayer and has a bouncy guitar style with great backbeats that remind me of Jack Johnson. The thing that sets him apart from those guys is his ability to blur the line between jazz, pop and hip-hop and do it so that it doesn’t sound forced. When I was reading Hammond's press release and got to the part about his beat boxing, I groaned, but when I listened I was truly impressed at how he fits it in and makes it sound like it belongs.
The songs on this CD are of the usual variety relationship-I want you, You Want Me-I’m confused, Please help me- type of songs. That’s OK, and what makes it OK is the music and grooves that keep you listening. The first track, “Let’s Get Alone” starts off with a groovy acoustic guitar riff and has a well placed rap-verse in the middle done up well by Kweku Sam Kwofie. “It’s OK” is a solo track with just voice and guitar that gives the listener an insight to the live sound of Ben Hammond. “Touch” is a track that does not allow you to sit still and uses Hammond’s beat boxing and some beats and sounds that reminded me of Stevie Wonder.
Ben Hammond seems to be on the edge of all the latest musical trends like circuit bending and beat boxing, yet it is all brought back into the traditional forms of jazz and pop and delivered with expertise. Go out and get this disk.
By Darryl Gregory