Zoe made a huge impact in 1991 with the release of her debut single "Sunshine on a Rainy Day," a Europop cover version that went to number 4 in the British charts. (It had originally been released a year earlier when it reached the Top 60.) However, subsequent efforts "Lightning" and "Holy Days" fared poorly. When her solo debut also flopped, she found herself in conflict with her label bosses over the extensive personal appearances she was required to perform at tawdry discos throughout Europe, and the relationship almost collapsed. Pollock had joined her first band, the soul outfit Cacique, after leaving stage school aged 16. She eventually regrouped in 1995 and began working on new tracks with her partner Youth, whom she first met while auditioning for Brilliant at his Butterfly Studios in Brixton. When she presented these to her record company M&G Records, new A&R director Jack Steven was impressed, and arranged for a concurrent U.S. release of the album by RCA Records. Most of the instruments on Hammer were played by Youth, though the duo's emotional relationship had foundered during the sessions -- leaving Youth doubtlessly wondering at whom some of the more pointed lyrics were aimed. Rather than the slightly sickly pop of her debut, Hammer comprised a number of bittersweet lyrics and harsh vignettes, typified by "Love Is the Beast" and the title track. Zoe's interest in the ethnic music of Ireland and India was also well represented in the Buddhist mantra "R.A.M" and "Down the Mountain." "The Lion Roars," meanwhile, was written in tandem with Anthony Thistlewaite, formerly of the Waterboys, and co-produced by revered Irish producer Donal Lunny in Dublin with Davy Spillane contributing uillean pipes.