Murry Hammond

Every Old 97's album features a couple of tunes written and sung by bassist Murry Hammond, the George Harrison of the group. And, for some fans, Hammond's tunes, such as "W. Tx. Teardrops" and "Valentine," have become highlights of the band's performances; Hammond's cornpone demeanor and soft-spoken charm have always provided just the right counterbalance to Rhett Miller's flamboyant (on and off stage) persona.

Hammond's debut solo effort features acoustic country/folk/gospel that only slightly resembles his work with the Old 97's. Packed with enough religious and train imagery to make Billy Graham and Joshua Lionel proud, songs such as "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?" and "Other, Younger Days" are starkly beautiful odes to lost parents and misspent youth. Hammond's commitment to spirituality is no fluke as the entire CD plays out like the soundtrack for Johnny Cash's trip to the holy land.

Like some sort of historical document (Hammond narrates train stories in between songs and fills the insert with ancient railroad photos), I Don't Know Where I'm Going is a simple statement full of complicated ideas, an intense peek at Hammond's joys and fears. Not for the faint of heart (or agnostics and atheists), this is revelatory music from one of Dallas' premier talents.

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