The more I listened to Anthony Hamilton on the web, the more I liked him. So, I bought the 2005 disc Ain’t Nobody Worryin’. I passed on the 2007 album Southern Comfort, because it was a little less funky than I wanted. There’s supposed to be a new album coming out in early February, according to Billboard, but I see neither hide nor hair of it so far.
He’s been collaborating with a lot of artists, including another R&B singer who’s getting hyped right now, Keyshia Cole. I’d love to see him do a duet with Alicia Keys (when she’s in a Fallin’ mood, and not a No One mood). (Really, watch that video of Fallin’. It’s a live performance, and there’s a stellar piano solo at the beginning that’s worth your time.) Anthony and Robert Randolph helped out with Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay (live YouTube of the original here that’s shockingly different than the original recording) on Buddy Guy‘s star-studded album Bring ‘Em In. Buy the album and listen to short snippets of the songs here. And, of course, you can see another bit of his work in the video for his song on American Gangster Do You Feel Me, which I posted about February 1 here.
I really gravitated to Anthony’s ’05 album because of the song Sista Big Bones, which streams on his site. However, I am warning you, DO NOT watch the video for Sista Big Bones. It nearly ruined the image I had of him in my head as a way-cool soul singer. In the song, as soulful as Anthony is, the awesome beat is more George Clinton than Al Green, and the backup vocals evoke Rufus. That sentence right there, once I formed it in my head, convinced me to buy the disc.
The other superstar track on the disc is Preacher’s Daughter, which features Stax-style backups by his wife Tarsha’ McMillian. She’s releasing an album February 26 called The McMillian Story. The intense lyrics draw you in, hard, and she’ll break your heart at the end of that song. As the liner notes say, she “vamps” the outro.
I like songs like those two with thump enough to rattle the pennies in my car’s change holder, and the album provided enough of them to keep me happy.
There are a fair number of crooning songs that I don’t love, but I feel because they’re rougher and groovier than, for instance, the too-smooth Brian McKnight, they might grow on me. Some sound like puttin’-on-the-night-moves songs, but closer attention to the lyrics reveals they’re really break-up songs.
A couple of tracks use a spoonful of soulful sugar to slip gospel messages into the grooves, not unlike Stevie Wonder and Al Green. There’s a song called Everybody that sounds in the intro like a rockin’ version of Lionel Richie’s Easy like Sunday Morning; the lyrics really remind me of Stevie: “Everybody needs love in their life / Everybody needs a little sun to shine.”
Final assessment: Dig the album, some tracks in particular, and I hope that he just funks out the next one.