Almost Clean, the debut album from Adam Hammer, is a nice introduction to a solid comedian. First impressions are important, and Hammer is off to a great start with nearly 50 minutes of strong material. He takes a laid-back approach to his stories rather than the in-your-face louder-is-funnier method many new comics tend to fall back on. It's a breath of fresh air and the laughs come easy. Hammer doesn't talk at or down to the crowd, but instead settles in like he's kicking back with friends on a Saturday afternoon; we've got a couple of brews, some great stories, and nowhere to go.
The CD kicks off with a couple of bits on hotels and life as a comedian on the road. Although it's a topic most comics have touched on at some point, Hammer's take is fresh and you aren't hearing stories you've already sat through a million times before. When he aims his sites at Motel 6 and reveals Tom Bodett's promise for the subtle, creepy threat it actually is, Hammer is banging on all cylinders.
With a proud confidence and an admission that he doesn't know all of the facts, Hammer freely presents his solution to the Obamacare debate. Going to prison, where everyone gets free healthcare courtesy of the taxpayer, may not be the solution you had in mind but hey, sometimes we have to make sacrifices. If it takes going to jail on a DUI charge to get free ointment for a rash on your leg, then so be it.
When Hammer explains how the D.A.R.E. program actually led him to drugs, you find he's got a twisted - but fun - way of being able to rationalize and explain pretty much anything. The reason he's not rich and famous is because of his dad, who selfishly offered Hammer constant support and never left his family high and dry (Hammer vows not to make the same mistake with his sons). He wants to try heroin because he'd love to know how to play guitar. His alcoholism is the reason he's able to stay so trim and fit. And soda, not global warming, is the reason polar bears are melting.
And yes, you read that last sentence correctly.
As laid back as Hammer is, there are a few things that get under his skin, namely people who feel the incessant need to explain their tattoos (regardless of whether or not anyone asked them), the whole concept of giving flowers (unless you're breaking up with someone), and people who want to talk to him about his cute dog.
And speaking of pets, Hammer found a way to make sex with cats funny. I won't go into it, but suffice it to say "It's like a sock that eats" is one of the funniest lines I've heard in a while. It's up to you to listen to the track on your own to get the full context.
If you're ever looking for a reason (Or two. Or three.) to drink and drive, Hammer is the man for you. He'll explain to you how drinking and driving could save lives and suggests getting behind the wheel when you're tipsy wouldn't have such a bad rep if, instead of crashing into upstanding citizens, more drunk drivers would aim for rapists.
The album ends with a special (secret) message (followed by one last joke for the road) encouraging the listener to share the project with friends. If you enjoyed Almost Clean let people know, and share it, at any price to Hammer (and his record label). Since I did enjoy the CD, I've decided to take Hammer up on his deal and spread the word.
I enjoyed this album and I think you will, too.
There. Word officially spread. Now forward this review to everyone you know who enjoys laughing and encourage them to check out Adam Hammer. He'll take it from there.