Our Pledge To You

News

In the music spotlight: Albert Hammond Jr.

BY JEFF ELBEL | FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Over the course of five albums together, the members of New York-based garage rock quintet The Strokes have taken time for individual projects. Solo outings by guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. have proven to be nuanced and worthy companions to the main band’s canon. The son of noted pop songwriter Albert Hammond, whose credits include FM radio staples “It Never Rains in Southern California” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” it’s possible that the son comes by some of his talent naturally. The evidence on his third solo album “Momentary Masters” shows, however, that his work is the fruit of intense soul-searching and hard work.

The name of Hammond’s album was taken from astronomer Carl Sagan’s humbling shot of perspective in his book “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”

“The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena,” Sagan wrote. “Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

Hammond translates that concept to the musical world. He describes the fleeting elation of a creative breakthrough and the immediate craving to top that feeling. “When you find complete happiness, you find this complete low,” he says in his press release. “I feel like that’s what being creative is. It’s you bouncing with emotion and what you capture in those bounces.”

Solo albums “Yours to Keep” and “¿Cómo Te Llama?” arrived in 2006 and 2008, respectively. “Momentary Masters” finds Hammond inhabiting a different world from those days. It’s his first album since experiencing a life-changing stint in rehab and getting married. Change is evident in Hammond’s sharpened songwriting in songs like “Born Slippy,” and even in his choice of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” as a cover song. Fresh perspective shows in his playing, too, which is rejuvenated and crackling with electricity on “Losing Touch” and “Caught By My Shadow.”

* Albert Hammond Jr., 8 p.m. Sep. 15, Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake. $20 (17+over); bottomlounge.com.

SPOTIFY playlist: http://bit.ly/HammondSPOT

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.