Where some artists seem to revel in making music out of “sugar and spice and all things nice”, as the saying goes, Rod Hamdallah weaves a sonic design out of much more bruised and brooding elements. There is a time and a place for the sugar rush of the former but nine times out of ten I find myself drawn to music threaded with such darker designs. Think About It is a perfect collection of razor wire garage rock, incendiary delta-blues, sleazy, underground rock swagger and just the right amount of punk rock energy to drive it all along. But the thing that really holds everything together, the unseen and, perhaps unexpected, glue that provides the sonic bond is a dark soul fashioned from …well, dark soul. Cool, seductive, evocative and slightly dangerous.
The title track acts as the perfect opening salvo and calling card, low-slung R&B, played for keeps with the perfect blend of passion, power and poise, a timely reminder that although most music comes into the mainstream consciousness largely after it has been polished, edited and sanitised for public consumption, all genres have their roots in darker and more dangerous places. Think About It is, in a way, the childhood photos of modern blues and alternative rock, the ones that you all look at and say “wow, haven’t you changed?” Yes, and certainly not for the better.
Carry You Home unveils some country grooves, but taken as a whole it’s the sort of song that would have the denizens of Music City shaking their heads with disapproval and I’m always drawn to music that has such a reaction from the establishment. The most intriguing song on the record has to be Heartbeat, a raggle-taggle Waitsian shuffle, part clattering musical hall strangeness, part gypsy jive, part voodoo blues…gloriously strange and strangely glorious.
It’s a fantastic suite of songs, one filled with an earthy energy, hunger and passion. But the smart thing about the record is that although the individual sonic building blocks are totally familiar, what he manages to build with them offers some wonderfully unique and infectious results. There is a vast difference between a musical builder and a sonic architect and Rod Hamdallah is definitely the latter.