K.K. Hammond is a slide guitarist and singer-songwriter blending the Delta, old Appalachia, and British Folk Horror into her own personal version of Gothic Blues and Pop Noir. Her cover of Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ on TikTok gained the band’s approval, and a version of Nirvana’s ‘Heart Shaped Box’ has garnered 100,000 views on social media. She has built a following of 66,000 + on Instagram purely by word-of-mouth, without a label or management. So this rising star in the British Blues and American Movement is about to be reviewed! Let’s see how it goes!
Swamp Thing: A brief 36 second montage sound piece as we enter the swamp (ooh er)
“Death Roll Blues.” The title track features David & The Devil, with whom KK duetted on an earlier single “The Ballad Of Lampshade Ed,” this made No. 1 on the iTunes Blues Chart and the accompanying video, directed by Tom Hughes of Ritual Video, won several awards (it is below if you want a look).
“A Curse that knows out names, and that’s what calls us in.” [lyric KK Hammond]
“What’s the weatherman done?” For some reason, this reminds me of the novel “Holes.” It’s the dry season, the winds blow, and then it ends in one hell of a downpour! It’s a slow track with a mean blues feel.
“Mister Apology.” A great guitar sound here, it’s really effective, and the vocals are full of velvet but with that ‘after drinking a whisky’ sentiment. This one is good, and it has a confident sway to it. Apparently it is a tribute to concept artist Allan Bridge, aka ‘Mr. Apology’ who set up an answering machine where criminals could anonymously confess! (Although, given the way that things have gone up in Cumbria recently, a way for fantasists to waste their own time rather than anyone else’s may be just as appropriate!). For the guitar lovers out there, KK Hammond is obsessed with resonator guitars and has a collection of unique, national, and Mule Resophonics. She plays slide in less usual open tunings and often uses baritone strings on standard scale resonator guitars.
“Anhedonia” is more of a political piece. It is so cynical that it chews bullets! I would describe a dark and subversive feel, and I wonder who is pulling the strings. It has a stripped down melody, a track taken to the absolute basics.
“The Bone Collector” is dark, and I do love these song titles! She is clearly a lover of horror, and, again, we have this stripped down sound that opens with this cool guitar melody (almost medieval). Lyrically, we enter the world of voodoo, we seem to be inside a Haitian voodoo nightmare scene. I would say that I don’t want to have my bones crushed and sold, I’m nobody’s aphrodisiac!
“In the Dirty South. ” The south is best when it’s dirty! This took me to the guitar sound of Lead Belly (you need to know this legend, we did a piece on him last year), and the Nirvana connection is there too (Lead Belly was a huge influence on Nirvana).
“Don’t Sell Your Sunshine for a Knife.” Interesting. Not a favourite of mine really, but it continues the vein of dark lyrics and mean guitar; it’s a bit like unplugged grunge this one.
“Till Death.” a touch whimsical. It’s still dark, though. I have an image of this girl sitting with her voodoo doll and reading my review. I know she is a bit of a self-declared hermit, so I use the word “whimsy” with caution. More accurately, perhaps, it’s dark, late-night blues with the blood flowing as “the hatchet deals the final blow.” For the record, it’s my favorite song on the album.
“Momento Mori.” A haunting number closes the album. I would like to listen to this one live, accompanied by Bellatrix Le Strange and a stiff drink. The guitar is rhythmic, and we are reminded of death whenever that encounter arrives.
We have here, loosely speaking, a concept album connected to some dark material. But, you know, the whole voodoo and swamp thing has a strong fascination. I had a tarot reading myself recently, and I liked that this album was one that you needed to listen to a couple of times to really connect with. We pointedly don’t give stars in this magazine, as Benny says, because it’s about the review, not a medal collection where people only glance at an inflated rating. But I would have to say the interest in this album is justified. It is out on March 31st,(but if you want to download some of her earlier music before then, try “You’re Gonna Need Somebody When You Die.”) and if you like your blues on the dark side with death sitting at the end of the bar having a late night bourbon, then this one’s for you. She is damn good at what she does, and the album deserves to do very well indeed.
By Lorraine Foley
By the way, if you like things on the darker side, try our poetry page!
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