Totally Biased Fan Review – Underdog – Gary Hammond

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One day, I will get to see Gary LIVE. I have come close a few times….extremely close, like a couple of kms’ away. I have reviewed Gary’s music before, another Victorian who is in that big old pot of unbelievable talent down there.

Gary’s music has the element that I love most about country music, it has heart. His music borders on country/folk and just pure folk and country/Celtic, which in the end, are all relatives. All of Gary’s songs have a story to them. He has a distinctive voice, a distinctive style and he always has something to say and he says it well.

“This album is dedicated to those who live on the fringes of society. From the homeless to low paid workers and from domestic abuse victims to refugees and more.” Gary states. “The definition of underdog is a victim of injustice or persecution. A person who has little status in society. One that is expected to lose a contest or a struggle. These are their stories.”

I have always been a champion for the underdog . I think, generally, it is the Australian way to cheer for the underdog. There are underdogs on this album who are very much victims of changing times, Government regulations and in short, the way it is. That doesn’t make it right, make it acceptable or make it the way it should be.

This album is very timely. Elections are coming and issues are about to be driven home. The people who serve as subjects in these songs need people to help them help themselves. They need a fair go.

The Songs:

Howling at the moon (The best laid plans….)- from the first howl, the scene is set.

Out of money (The working poor…) – About those who work menial jobs, work hard, long hours for very little and never seem to make ends meet.

If you love me (it shouldn’t matter)- I think the title says it all. Some songs are like that.

A Single Man: All the lonely people…..

More Trouble (They’re locking me away….) – Wrong time, wrong place, not given a chance to start again. Once in trouble, always in trouble.

A Homeless Man – the diversity of homeless people and sadly, the large amount of them.

All you want is freedom (The refugee song) – Very topical at the moment.

The greatest show you’ll ever see: This song has many meanings. I found about 4, I may be wrong about all of them. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Redundant (Thrown on the scrap heap..) – The word makes you feel enough. The workforce is getting tougher, this is happening more often.

The Black Dog: Another very topical subject, an all too common problem these days. Depression and all that comes with it.

The Black Sheep of the family: The ultimate underdog, the black sheep. Every family has one.

A Perfect day (with a pent up violent streak): Domestic violence, alcoholism, denial.

This album is a departure in many ways from Gary’s other albums, but it has the same heart and conviction of the other albums. This album is very timely, with the songs – some subtly, some not so subtly, delivering a message. The thing with underdogs is that with the right guidance, help and confidence, they don’t have to be underdogs anymore. They can rise above it. As Mr Campbell once sang, Try a little kindness.

I took a while to review this album. I have played it many times and I admit to not saying as much about each song as I normally do. This is because, each one has to be listened to very carefully. I think even after a hundred times, I will still be discovering things in these songs that I didn’t hear the first time.

Some of these songs may be confronting to some listeners. When we are going on with our lives, which are usually more positive, we sometimes put our blinkers on and try not to see these not so pretty parts of Australia and Australians. They are there, though, and we can’t go on avoiding them.

Musically, apart from guitar on one of the tracks, all of the instruments are played by Gary. All of the songs were written by Gary. As a former footballer, I am sure that Gary knows what it is like to be an underdog, though in a different sense. If just one of these songs makes you look at the underdogs twice and think about ways of helping them, then they are more than songs, they are more than messages. The blinkers will come off and your heart will find a way.

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