A sultry delight that combines neo-soul, R&B, gospel, hip hop, G-funk and country.
Daryl Easlea 2012-09-20
Although there are many reference points within Anthony Hamilton’s work, he remains a singular, special figure in modern soul. John Legend and D’Angelo have enjoyed greater acclaim in the UK, but Hamilton is perhaps the connoisseur’s choice amongst the many sensitive male singer-songwriters of the 90s and 00s.
A sultry delight from start to finish, Hamilton successfully creates his own universe on this second studio album, its title a generous nod to Steve Wonder’s Where I’m Coming From. Working from a palette fusing neo-soul, R&B, gospel, hip hop, G-funk and even tinges of country, Jermaine Dupri and Mark Batson’s production is reminiscent of Willie Mitchell’s, intimate, close-up work with Al Green. It creates an intense, emotional atmosphere.
Hamilton’s unhurried voice conveys passion and pain with a rich, smoky soulfulness that echoes his influences – Green, Sly Stone and Marvin Gaye. But his style is not just a simple regurgitation of these fabled talents; Hamilton’s delivery feels fresh and new. His pieces unfold at a leisurely pace, but never outstay their welcome.
Arguably Hamilton’s defining moment, keening ballad Charlene is a perfect example of his craft, relaxed almost to the point of soporific. Elsewhere, the title track is an introspective rumination about trying to climb out of the ghetto, and Better Days is a marvellous blend of disco ballad and sun-kissed, ethereal soul.
Junius Bervine’s production on Float adds a touch a drama to the mid-tempos of the album. Hamilton even reinterprets AOR on the choruses of Chyna Black with Eric Coombes’ chopping metal guitar and the sustained, subtle attack of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac. I Tried closes the album in a more conventional gospel approach.
Although he has remained relatively underground in the UK, the USA fell for Anthony Hamilton in a big way, Comin’ From Where I’m From going top 20 and Platinum-certified. It received a clutch of Grammy nominations, which set him on course for a successful decade, including 2011’s Back to Love, another US top 20 hit.