Ramonda Hammer – I Never Wanted Company

The careful poise between independence and loneliness is a high-wire trick that Ramonda Hammer pull off on their debut album, I Never Wanted Company – delivered to us via New Professor Music.

There’s a fondness for the force of a melody that reaches to the backseat. The fuzzed-up expressions here have roots in that era of off-kilter indie-rock that hit mainstream audiences in the mid to late nineties. But this is not an album that borrows/steals from the past. Singer-songwriter Devin Davis puts herself in the roots of a genre and nurtures fresh growth. There’s an awareness of tradition, but also an eagerness to address the now.

The waves of confidence that wash through these tracks lifts all matter. At one turn we have a peak of self-assurance. Facing down the modern world, and the low-grade agonies of contemporary culture Davis sings “….I’ll be the unconventional / I’ll be the unconditional…” in ‘Relativity’. A slower moment in the sequence offers a portrait of a songwriter planted with her feet at shoulder-width, ready to accept whatever’s thrown her way. Elsewhere, humility sneaks in.

‘Dramatization’ questions the narrators own expectations. It’s not quite self-doubt, but there is a fraying of the certain, and we’re made to ask ourselves if being an honest individual means being left alone. What’s the cost of compromising the authentic self?

Production of I Never Wanted Company, is damn-near flawless. Alex Newport should be applauded for his energy in capturing the spontaneous elements of process. The affection on display, affording space to bottomless drums, or the preservation of a ripped guitar-note is refreshing. Many attempt this tonal approach, and many fail. Ramonda Hammer never fall short of themselves, and their ambition is articulated better than most.

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