Anthony Hamilton made a debut record for Uptown Records, “XTC”, back in 1996 but when Uptown went belly-up, the album went unreleased. By the time MCA released the album a year later, it went unnoticed and unfortunately has become a rare thing, hard to find anywhere.
He signed to Soulife Records and also recorded an album for them, but in 2000 got the call to sing backup on D’Angelo’s “Voodoo” tour, to come back and discover that Soulife had also bit the dust, and yet another album went into the vaults.
For fans, his Soulife recorded material, incidentally called “Soulife” is to be released June 27 by Atlantic/Rhino Records. Hamilton cowrote the album, and worked with Grammy award winning producer Mark Sparks and it includes a duet with Macy Gray, “Love And War”, originally released on the “Baby Boy” soundtrack.
I had searched for “Comin’ From Where I’m From” from early 2004, but it wasn’t until the iPod in April that I bought it as a digital download from the iTunes store–my first such purchase might I add. That proved well worth the wait and I expect nothing but stellar work from this “Soulife” album. The deeply impressive “Comin’ From Where I’m From”, led me to do a little Limewire work and I found his “XTC” album, which is as well made as “Comin’ From Where I’m From”.
The weirdest thing is that you’re listening to Anthony Hamilton across a decade of making music. Despite the time span, there is not a wasted note in either “XTC” or “Comin’ From Where I’m From”. This is grown up music. His consistency is quite astonishing. From the get go, there is no wishy washy, no album fluff, not a single bland or banal lyric, not a track that the music doesn’t come together on. That’s a rare acievement for an artist so long ignored. “XTC”, still sounds fresh almost nine years later.
Although Hamilton is compared to the likes of Bobby Womack, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield, his sound is classic without needing to be attached or compared to any of the old soul greats. It’s a pleasure to listen to him with new ears, and allow his immense ability to speak for itself. In short, Hamilton’s voice is unique and his talent makes for some the most sublime listening in recent R&B history.
He may have been overlooked for long, but being the sister of an overlooked musician, it gives me great hope that the artists most worthy of attention can receive it. To be lost and obscure, and found… such a marvellous revelation and I for one am glad to have finally settled into this anti-hero of R&B. Do it, buy it… you love soul deep, gut wrenching, baby making music… this is the brother in spades.
My copy of “Soulife” is already on pre-order at Amazon.co.uk, and I understand from scanty information available, that it is well worth the wait, now five or six years overdue. Like I said though, I expect no different. This is no precarious sitting pretty artist, his recordings assure him a place in the history of soul music.