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On Saturday night at Schubas singer and guitarist Murry Hammond, best known as a member of the Old 97's, plays one of a handful of solo gigs in support of his new album, I Don’t Know Where I’m Going but I’m on My Way (Humminbird). He's usually considered the rootsiest guy in his main band, and his new record is unabashedly old-fashioned. Whether he's singing an original tune or an old country-gospel standard--when at home in Los Angeles, Hammond performs every week at his church--he seems pretty hung up on the time-tested topics of ramblin' and trains.
Hammond's singing is sometimes a dolorous sort of moan, ocassionally punctuated by surprisingly good yodeling, and at those moments he reminds me more than a little of the Handsome Family's Brett Sparks, albeit without the mordant wit. I Don’t Know Where I’m Going is a stripped-down record--most songs use only guitar and bass, with a couple adding a droning harmonium--and though it could've used a few up-tempo numbers, it's a pleasant diversion from Hammond's more rocking output.