Guitar instrumental albums tend to split opinions: people either love them or hate them. But for some reason Passion And Warfare is different. It seems to crop up in a surprising amount of record collections. Mainly it’s due to the fact that the album doesn’t just feature shred-tastic chops from Steve Vai, but also strong compositions and sonic textures. Stu Hamm is on fine form throughout, particularly in that funky slapping and tapping breakdown on ‘Blue Powder’.
In many ways Hamm never bettered his debut solo album. It’s littered with astonishing bass chops that left many back in the day shaking their heads in amazement. The sweetly sad melody of ‘Flow My Tears’, with its tapped slides, the incredible solo bass arrangement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ and the iconic ‘Country Music (A Night In Hell)’ have all become staples of Hamm’s live performances. When the album came out the bass playing community took notice, and they’ve kept their eye on Stu ever since.
This solo album was Stu’s first in nine years, after a relentless schedule of touring and recording with other musicians. It’s more soundscapey than his previous albums, relying on tight compositions and melody as opposed to insane chops. The standout track has to be ‘Charlotte’s Song’ with its beautiful melody and expressive playing. It’s a mature effort and one that ranks among his best.