Bill Hammond | Speechless

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United States - Minnesota

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Folk: Fingerstyle Folk: Free-folk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Speechless

by Bill Hammond

Sweet, moving, melodic acoustic-guitar compositions, recorded with a casual, intimate concert feel.
Genre: Folk: Fingerstyle
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Fall Creek
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3:12 $0.99
2. Kilmacdough
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2:55 $0.99
3. Mark's Motorbike
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1:28 $0.99
4. River
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2:22 $0.99
5. True Blue
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2:04 $0.99
6. Poor Little Jesus
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2:34 $0.99
7. Last Call
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2:37 $0.99
8. Dimming of the Day
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2:20 $0.99
9. Georgia's Kafe
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2:21 $0.99
10. The Week Before Easter
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2:45 $0.99
11. Song for Christine
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3:40 $0.99
12. Hector the Hero
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2:26 $0.99
13. If I Gave You
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2:09 $0.99
14. Last One Pretty Good
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0:09 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Rounder Records Celtic guitar pioneer Steve Baughman says about "Speechless": "This is Bill Hammond at his best -- gorgeous tone, deep musical passion, commitment to melody."

Australian acoustic superstar Tommy Emmanuel says "Way to go, Bill!"

BILL HAMMOND is a Minnesota-based guitarist and vocalist whose influences run the gamut from fingerstyle players and classical composers to blues wailers and country-style flat-pickers. He has played in groups and as a solo performer in his native Wisconsin and throughout Minnesota, where he has lived since 1981. His "Skywriter" CD was released in the fall of 2000, and has earned considerable airplay on public radio and Internet venues. "Speechless," an all-instrumental recording that features six different guitars and six different tunings, was released in July 2004.


Reviews


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Don Henderson

Beautiful guitar music done just right.
Too often the phrase "acoustic instrumental guitar" conjures up the image of a Windham Hill clone playing uninspired hyperspeed slap n' tap riffs, or slow, droning fingerpicking exercises drenched in chorus and reverb. I'm happy to report that Bill Hammond is a refreshing exception to that trend, and in a big, big way. Blessed with a technique that doesn't need to hide behind processed effects or flashy gimmicks, Hammond lets the natural sound of his instrument shine through on every tastefully played track of "Speechless", his second full-length album.

Every note Hammond plays belongs to the song, never the opposite. As a guitarist myself, it's easy to hear when someone composes and performs from the approach of "Ok, I have these 4 cool riffs, how can I string em' together so I end up with a song?" That's a case of making the song belong to the notes, and it makes for an uninspired listening experience. I never get that feeling when I listen to Hammond's music.


His confidence can be felt on every track, but that confidence never lets the ego take over. Instead, it keeps the ego locked safely away (something more players could stand to do) so each song can be heard exactly as it should be. If you want a blueprint for how to play beautiful, ego-free guitar, or just want a meaningful listening experience, look no further than this CD.

Will Franklin

This new CD is marked by its excellent variety and emotion.
Bill Hammond's new CD pretty much left me speechless. Beautifully played, his guitar becomes more than a musical instrument. In delicate phrasing and dynamics, his work creates emotional mental images from one's past. In some tunes, notably If I Gave You, and River, the sweet nostalgic quality of Bill's music is at times overwhelming. As a guitar player myself, but a low intermediate level at best, I envy Bill's skill and talent. The production of the CD is excellent; better than most indie CD's and many mainline commercial offerings. The tone of Bill's guitar is the sweet, indescribable sound of metal becoming musical art. Needless to say, I like this album a lot!

Tim Alexander (re-submitted with a small correction)

"Speechless" is such an appropriate title for this high quality effort.
A question for the listener: Does Bill Hammond's guitar playing support his music or does Bill Hammond's music support his guitar playing? Whichever answer you choose, I am quite certain of one thing -- Bill's new CD, "Speechless," will leave you with a sense that this is not his first, nor his final, solo guitar album.
Bill "sings" through his guitar and his
arrangements are the careful and deliberate orchestration of six strings over a simple wooden box. Though his arrangements of existing tunes are very meaningful and well executed, I feel his original compositions have always been his strong suit. From the opener, "Fall Creek" to my personal favorite, "Georgia's Kafe", Bill has captured a little bit of the magic that can only be found when an acoustic guitar is played at the highest musical level. "Speechless" is such an appropriate title for this high quality effort.

Cheney Coker

Wonderfully accessible music for anyone who loves guitar
The tunes on this CD include soulful spirituals, evocative Celtic tunes and bluesy romps with everything in between. Multiple highlights. To me, "Fall Creek" and "Georgia's Cafe" probably sum up Bill's sound the best. Graceful picking with great melodies and emotional depth. Instantly accessible.
The Celtic tunes ("River", "The Week Before Easter" and "Kilmacdough") are beautiful examples of what a great guitarist can do. Just a hint of melancholy.
Strongly recommend this CD. A fantastic collection.

El McMeen

El McMeen likes it
I've listened a couple of times, and compliment you on your effort! I know
a little about the struggle, based on your various posts. Nice job!
Important accomplishment for you. I'm not speechless -- I expected something
like this.

Doing a CD is a big deal--from the creation of the pieces, to the
memorization, to the refinements, to the rendering in the studio, the
editing, mixing, mastering, determining the order of things, doing the liner
notes, dealing with the production, and then getting something to fondle. You
did it, young man!

I like your focus on melody; you know what the important notes are, and
emphasize them well. That Martin D-18 sounded nice. The "Song for Christine"
was tender, and the 12-string tune was effective, and a good change of tonal
pace for the CD.

You will go through a love-hate thing with this CD, if you are anything like
me; I just wanted you to expect that. There are many reasons to love it, and
none to hate it; you have that from me.


Celtic guitarist El McMeen

Shannon C

Fine solo acoustic guitar recording
This recording is an excellently-played and recorded set of solo acoustic guitar pieces. There is technical excellence in abundance, but the CD succeeds on the basis of excellent songs and attention to melody. This is a very musical offering, and I recommend it highly.

a.j. rosales


Bill takes what I'd call a 'lyrical' approach towards plucking a six string. He has a delicate, almost celtic influenced touch that he draws on to create melodies with both texture and style. On each of the songs on this disk you are encouraged to think of a scene in your head as you listen along. On one song you can easily imagine yourself sitting on a porch, sipping lemonade, and on the next one you're watching a beautiful sunset in a country field - while at more serious times, you might imagine being in love or holding a newborn in your arms. That's what is great about this disk - you want to embellish the story as you are listening. Bill composes beautiful impressionist pieces that let you paint-them-by-numbers using your mind. If you are a fan of solo acoustic guitar playing, pick up this disk and let yourself dream a little. Your imagination will thank you for it.

Scott Neubert

A Triumphant Effort
Being a guitar player listening to other guitar players can be a disadvantage. Sometimes you have a preconceived notion of how everybody should sound and if they don't meet those expectations you don't like them. Not so with Bill Hammond's Speechless. No pretentious (watch this) just honest playing from the heart. Bill works effortlessly through the 13 compositions like he wrote them sitting on his back porch relaxing one evening. 6 original compositions shine throughout the CD but the cover songs take on an originality characteristic of Bill's smooth and soothing playing. Dimming Of The Day and Song For Christie are two of my favorites. Both emotional pieces that need no words to convey their sentiments and moods. A truly beautiful CD that is aptly titled. It did leave me speechless. Thanks Bill

John Bauman

Drawn from life
If you’re at all like me, you tire of acoustic guitar recordings, the reviews of which promise the world. You buy the recording, spin it, only to find… “Oh, they mean THAT world”. Well, Hammond’s feet stand squarely on the same world as mine.

Finally, an instrumental guitar recording that appears to be made not with other guitarists in mind. Instead, Hammond’s is music that ALL can live with. In fact, I feel like we do – live with it, I mean. Hammond’s lyrical approach feels “slice of life”.

Depending on the medium, sometimes it’s easy to tell when art draws inspiration from a real model or is entirely fantasy. The art derived from the observation of a real model results in a more identifiable end. Even if extremely abstracted.

Last week I had occasion to wend my way through Western Wisconsin. Along the highway near Eau Claire I noticed a road sign, “Fall Creek ->”. “Hmmm”, I thought, “that’s the opening track to that Hammond CD”. Then I remembered having read that Hammond is originally from that neck of the woods.

Well, things fell into place. And the real nature of those lyrical compositions suddenly drove home. Hammond’s compositions have the feel of real because he drew from a model. As right as “Fall Creek” feels in the setting that inspired it, so the rest of the CD carries that same sense of having been drawn much more from life, much less from fantasy. That’s a good thing in my book.