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On Soulife, soul sensation Anthony Hamilton's lost Atlantic debut, the Grammy-nominated singer fuses classic '70s soul with contemporary R&B and achieves some stellar results. This disc brings to light never-before-released material recorded between 1999 and 2001 and includes the track 'Love And War', featuring Macy Gray and previously released on the Baby Boy soundtrack. 'Last Night' features Sunshine Anderson. Also includes 'I Cry', 'Keeper', 'Georgie Parker', 'Love Is So Complicated', 'Magnolia' & more. Warner. 2005.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What would have been even better is if someone had thought to take the few really great tracks (the rest are just good or solidly done) and put them on the first record, giving us a really great debut in the first place. Hamilton is an artist who deserves FAR greater recognition than he's received, and that kind of math would have done the job right. As it stands, fans are just hoping that the lukewarm response to this very strong record doesn't suggest to Hamilton that he should change his style.
Here's hoping he sticks to his guns and outlasts industry ignorance.
Thankfully, we still have some artistes with a vision, a dream of making real music, and an intention of sticking to their ideals. Despite all the obvious pressures, these men and women reject the `here today, gone tomorrow' fads of triteness, as they swim against the tide of mediocrity that passes itself off as popular music nowadays. Luckily, it is we, the discerning listeners, who get to enjoy the results.
Anthony Hamilton is one such singer in my book. I'm still enthralled with his debut, "Comin' From Where I'm From", two years after its release. It's difficult to say whether this new work is better in any way but one thing's for sure: it's definitely not worse and it offers up the same top quality soul that I've come to expect from this singer. That can only be a good thing. His voice is as smoky and smouldering as ever and the comparisons to soul heroes like Bill Withers, Al Green and Bobby Womack are no exaggeration.
I remember debates I had with friends in the months following the release of "Comin'". My friends and I were loving his music but were wondering how much commercial success he'd have, given the type of music that people seem to be into these days.
"Oh, he's gonna have to water it down somewhat for his next release," someone said. Thankfully, that hasn't happened.
"He'll definitely have to get a couple of rappers on his next CD. Maybe put a club banger or two in there," someone else said. Thankfully, despite the panic he generated in us by collaborating with Twista recently, that didn't happen either. If there are any club bangers on this album, I must've missed them.
"He's gonna have to change his image," one of us also said. "Maybe tidy his shave up a bit, change his wardrobe, maybe even show a bit more flesh. You know, for the laydeeeeies..." No one can be happier than I am, that none of this has happened either. Anthony Hamilton has stayed true to himself and may he be blessed for doing so.
As far as the songs on the album are concerned, I love them all. The production is clean and devoid of gimmicks, giving his voice centre stage. What might be worth mentioning in the context of this review though, are the collaborations. "Love And War" features Macy Gray and "Last Night" features Sunshine Anderson & Dolo Pichino. Interestingly, although I greatly admire the talents of the first two (I've never heard of the third), neither of them are exactly current TRL darlings. All of this just goes to strengthen my belief in Anthony Hamilton's musical character. Think of all the other female vocalists he could have gone for - and who no doubt would have been happy to duet with him - but didn't.
Anyway, both collaborations work very well and I hope both Macy and Sunshine appear on the scene again in their own rights real soon.
All in all, forget so-called "neo soul", (an unfortunate label if I ever heard one). If you like your soul real, full-bodied and full of authentic southern flavour, this is a must for you.
PS: I've only just discovered that this is not a release of new material but in fact stuff that he had done before his debut release on Arista. That explains the "change" of label and it also puts into question many of the statments I made above, especially about image, collaborations and so forth. Ah, well. That'll teach me to make sure I read the inner sleeve notes on a CD next time before I go flapping my mouth.
I still stand by my review though. I still think this is a great CD, worthy of the 5 stars I've given it. Only thing that's changed is I guess it seems we still await a "new" release proper from Mr Hamilton. We also wait to see if he goes on to fulfil the promise I've been crowing on about. I remain hopeful.
As expected, there are plenty of nice ballads on here, like "Clearly" and "I Used to Love Someone". Another good one is "Love Is So Complicated", which borrows music from Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Midnight Groove" (the song Flipmode Squad sampled for "Cha Cha Cha"). But my favorite song is "Last Night" with Dolo Pichino and Sunshine Anderson, a song that also appeared on Sunshine's underrated album Your Woman (which was on the now-defunct Soulife record label, just like THESE songs were initially). And "Icing On the Cake" is aptly titled, and "Exclusively" is good too, because Anthony is better at falsetto than I thought he would be.
Unlike most reviewers, I didn't care for "Georgie Parker" or "Ol' Keeper" (well, the choruses, anyway). But everything else is above-average, thus making Soulife one of the best albums you've never heard.