Yours To Keep review by Albert Hammond, Jr.

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  • Released: Mar 6, 2007
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.6 (44 votes)
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Yours To Keep
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Sound — 8
The first member of The Strokes to make his move into the world of solo albums has come out with some surprising and overall satisfying results. Guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.'s release Yours To Keep has unmistakable Strokes' elements that do pop up along the way, but at the same time there is a very different feel to it -- a mellow one. While using the word mellow might be a bit frightening to the more rock-oriented fans, behind the low-key delivery are quite a few enjoyable songs that feature Hammond's trademark melodic guitar work.

Although Yours To Keep features guest appearances from Strokes' vocalist Julian Casablancas, Sean Lennon, and Ben Kweller, it is Hammond that easily steals the spotlight. His vocal delivery takes several turns during the course of the record, and it's startling to hear how similar he can sound like John Lennon (an American version, at least). This phrasing is most prominent in Blue Skies, and Hammond captures Lennon's sound eerily well. When you add in the fact that a similar echo-heavy mic is used that recalls Lennon's No. 9 Dream, it really reinforces the similarities.

There are more than a few comparisons to other legends along the way, including a bit of Beach Boys in Cartoon Music For Superheroes (complete with multi-part harmonies and the high falsetto), and even a bit of ELO's Jeff Lynne on the bonus track Well... All Right. This is not to say that Hammond is trying to copy these musicians by any means. In fact, it's pretty incredible that he can create songs on his own that broach that territory.

While there are a few songs that have hints of The Strokes (In Transit and 101), the album is usually too laid back to maintain these comparisons. Even if you aren't one to usually pick up a softer rock record, Yours To Keep still should be commended for the beautiful melodies underneath the majority of the songs.

Lyrics — 7
While the lyrics seem heartfelt on the CD, they still do keep to a basic and traditional format. The words are fairly straightforward and allow the music to be the focal point on the record.

Musically, Scared is layered with vocal tracks and is ornate in its approach. The background vocalists actually sing in rounds for many lines during the song, so it was probably best to use basic lyrics. Hammond sings, Don't stop now that we're almost there, anyway; Oh I'm here for you; I know you're still there because you're scared that you'll lose everybody. They are touching lyrics, but aren't necessarily worded in a way that would necessarily get your attention in a song.

Call An Ambulance features a bit of wit in the mix. It starts off fairly benign, then pulls out something unexpected. He sings, Once I was told; That a boy caught a cold And he left to go home to get some sleep instead; His baby stayed where she was; I go talk to her 'cause; I wanna sleep with her. What at first almost sounds like a nursery rhyme suddenly turns into a bit of something any red-blooded boy would relate to. It's just a nice humorous touch that balances out the simplicity of many of the lyrics.

Overall Impression — 8
Listening to Yours To Keep takes you in several different directions, and a variety of comparisons can be drawn to classic artists. Even so, Hammond does a fine job of writing songs that have unique identities and don't ever feel like fillers. His guitar work is still very much present (and that is probably the most reminiscent aspect of The Strokes on the CD), but his vocals really do make an impression.

For Strokes' fans, Hammond's solo record is a very different animal. Perhaps 3 of the songs could fit on a Strokes album, while the rest are just too mellow and, for lack of a better word, pretty. Hammond has cemented an identity all for himself with Yours To Keep, and that's not an easy feat coming from a radio/critical/fan favorite like The Strokes.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gakusey
    What a great way to finally show that he's just as good as Nick Valensi, who naturally overshadows Albert in The Strokes. No Nick here - and what an awesome record!
    tamnud
    its brilliant i brought this thinking it would be a pretty decent strokes-like record and i was shocked really, in a good way, the album was really good and not what i was expecting, i agree with the review aswell, the songs are very pretty songs, this just shows how good a songwriter albert is, but he should by no means leave the strokes cause they're legends, but if they did break up, albert would enjoy a successful solo career
    wasp2020
    I agree, the rougher version of In Transit is a million times better. (If anybody wants to listen to it, look for "Obstinate", the name given by fans to the demo song early on)
    J Dub
    I saw them live when they opened for Incubus. To be honest, I thought they kind of sucked... Maybe the album's better though, I dunno. I'll give it a listen.
    Arthur Curry
    Elephant song is good. I just don't like this album. I love The Strokes. But this is just over-produced shit. And the rougher version of In Transit is ten times better than the album version.
    wasp2020
    I mean, he's "just" their rhythm guitarist. Both Valensi and Hammond are both Rhythm and Lead guitarists. In The Strokes, neither of them are one or the other. Valensi plays a bit more solos, but not too much. You have Last Nite, Under Control, Trying Your Luck, Ize of the World, the blistering Vision of Division..., etc... But yeah, I really like his record. In Transit for the win. Any of you guys hear Elephant Song (also written by AlberT)? The Strokes used to play it in early, ealry live shows (January 2000 is a bootleg) and it's pretty cool. Shows some interesting influences.
    PolskaBro1824
    This album is freaking incredible. This website usually just rates every album at least a 9 so I guess this review is equivalent to about a normal 5/10. Don't be fooled, this album is incredible.
    Daniel Pearce
    I think Valensi overchadows him aswell. But this is a wonderful solo record that no one expected, especially him singing so well. The Strokes are my favourite band next to the Killers well 'were' because I think there was a news report on hear saying they were going to give it the sack. The cover is nice and fantastic solo album from someone who plays rythem guitar!
    Gakusey
    Why WOULD it have a Strokes sound?! I mean, he's "just" their rhythm guitarist. It's his solo record we're talking about. Of course it's different. And yeah, Valensi definitely overshadows him, though I like all 5 of them, of course
    strokes4ever
    as my name probably gives away, i am a big strokes fan but this album dosent have the same strokes sound, it is still a brilliant record though, i had no idea albert could actually sing but i was pleasantly surprised hes got a really great chirpy voice. I genuinely think its one of the best records i've bought this year, with "101", "In transit", "Call an ambulance" and "Hard to live in the city" being particular highlights for me. Rock on Albert but dont leave the strokes whatever you do.
    echofreak
    i love this album. im really suprised at how good of a singer he is, i dont know why he hasnt sang backup for the strokes.
    Revalk
    What a great way to finally show that he's just as good as Nick Valensi, who naturally overshadows Albert in The Strokes
    Valensi overshadows Albert? I never ever got that impression. I thought it was the other way around.