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Music Review: Tom Hambridge – Boom!

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I have a new travel companion. Tom Hambridge’s new album, Boom, has been in heavy rotation on my car stereo system. It is the type of pulse pounding blues/rock, with a touch of country here and there, that is perfect company for honking down the highway on a summer’s day.

Hambridge is probably best known as a producer, songwriter, session singer, and drummer. He has produced albums by such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, and Susan Tedeschi. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and won for his production of Buddy Guy’s Living Proof CD in the Best Contemporary Blues Album Category.

He has also carved out a nice solo career for himself. Boom is his sixth album release and he is currently playing the music on the road as the opening act for George Thorogood and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The album contains slick and well-polished music, as Hambridge is an accomplished vocalist and songwriter. He wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks in addition to self-producing the release. As a drummer, he needed to attract good musicians to compliment his playing and vision during the recording process. The main backing musicians are electric guitarist Rob McNelly, who shines throughout the album, bassist Tommy MacDonald, and keyboardist Kevin McKendree.

The music primarily treads the line between in your face rock and blues, although he does travel in other directions once in a while. He has the knack of writing melodic music that flows well, despite the pounding of the rhythms. His drumming is always very present but he is experienced and wise enough not to let it overwhelm the rest of the instruments that surround it.

The music, for the most part, rotates between hard rock and blues. “I Keep Things” is a melodic and powerful up-tempo opening track. The clever lyrics tell the stories of the things we keep, which evoke memories. “Upside Of Lonely” and “Nine Pound Hammer” are both pulsating blues rockers. “Never Gonna Change” is a hard blues piece in the George Thorogood tradition. “Two Thumbs Up” is just good old rock ‘n’ roll.

Several country-type tracks provide a nice counterpoint to the rest of the material. “The Best In Me,” ”I Got Your Country Right Here,” and “Things I Miss The Most” come with an occasional slide guitar and a different tempo.

One track I have returned to a number of times is the instrumental, “Bangin’ Around.” It can best be described as a barrelhouse rock tune, complete with some creative piano runs.

Tom Hambridge has created an entertaining album of catchy rock, blues, and even country. It is the type of album that could bring him the commercial breakthrough and acclaim similar to what he has received as a songwriter and producer.

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