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Anthony Hamilton "The Point of It All" Album Review
The true essence of soul music has always been about more than just having a good time.
It goes much deeper than that. Especially the kind of soul music that defined the Vietnam War era of the early 1970s.
Sure, in the late 1960s there was the great Otis Redding telling us to get off our butts and “Shake!” and before that Sam Cooke invited us to “Twist the Night Away,” good times, all.
But as the 60s drew to a close, things changed. Marvin Gaye wondered about our planet’s health in “Mercy, Mercy Me,” Bill Wither’s pondered about a wounded soldier’s ability to transition from war to civilian life in “I Can’t Write Left-Handed,” and Curtis Mayfield spun tales of day-to-day inner city living in “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly.”
Those songs share more than just a common denominator of social awareness. They are astounding musical performances, and were capable of getting your body to groove along to the message, thus setting the bar impossibly high for those who followed.
And whether or not he realizes it, this is the kind of company in which Anthony Hamilton will be measured against.
Not in terms of his chances at establishing himself as one of the all-time legends in soul music (that would be grossly unfair at this point in time), but rather in terms of his ability to carry on the tradition set forth by Gaye, Withers and Mayfield. The tradition of issuing a State of the Union through soul music.
And the Charlotte, N.C., native Hamilton certainly has the talents and the abilities to carry that torch high and bright.
My introduction to the world of Anthony Hamilton came through the righteous Reverend Al Green. Hamilton appeared on a couple of songs from Green’s 2008 disc, Lay it Down. After being intrigued by what I heard from Hamilton - after all, not just everyone can hold their own with Rev. Green - I tracked down Hamilton’s Southern Comfort CD from a year before. A collection of un-released songs, Southern Comfort just confirmed what my ears first thought on Lay it Down – this Hamilton kid has got a world of potential.
Hamilton followed Southern Comfort with his newest disc, The Point of it All, issued late in 2008.
And what Hamilton has came up with in The Point of it All, is a disc that is ready-made to explode all over the radio waves. It is expertly produced and has a nice sound quality that is a bit of a departure from Hamilton’s previous, more earthy-sounding discs.
"Do you feel me?"
Be that as it is, The Point of it All is still probably “too real” to receive much love on R&B/soul radio stations these days, because I’m sure Hamilton doesn’t fit in with the target demographics of most corporate radio behemoths.
But that’s OK. That gives Hamilton the freedom to tell it like it is on The Point of it All.
Opening with the slinky, funky minor-key groove of “The News,” Hamilton gets right to the point. “It’s too late for him to tell his story; The streets take over; Claimed another solider and his body lays colder.” This could be ripped straight out of the headlines anywhere across this nation. That’s “The News” and that’s the kind of world we live in. Hamilton’s falsetto gives the track a chilling grip and an urban, mid-70’s era feel.
David Banner helps lighten things up a bit on “Cool” the first tune from the disc to have a minor impact on the radio waves.
The longest track on the disc, “Prayin’ For You/Superman is seven minutes of time well spent. A treat of the finest order, the track is split down the middle – the first part an up-tempo, finger-snapper, complete with jangly acoustic guitar and a gospel-like backing choir. Then, halfway through the song, the blues take over, with Hamilton effortlessly pining for lost love while a sparse piano plunks away. This is the kind of stuff that could possibly place Hamilton into the class of the incredible Withers.
Immediately following, “Her Heart” is a splendid ballad that shows off the vocal range that Hamilton can reach. Warm and heartfelt, this is another highlight of the disc, to be sure.
“Fine Again” harkens back to Hamilton’s guest spot on Al Green’s latest CD and would have fit in without missing a beat on Lay it Down. “You don’t have to drink yourself to sleep at night. You don’t have to stomp all over your problem. We’ll get better with time.” This seems to be a direct response to the plight outlined on the disc’s initial track, “The News.”
The middle portion of The Point of it All is probably the least productive, with “Soul’s on Fire” and “Fallin’ in Love” a notch below the rest of the content on Hamilton’s otherwise superb disc.
Although the beats used and the modern production qualities give away the fact that it was recorded just a year ago, the message inside, along with Hamilton’s dynamite voice, give The Point of it All the warm, rich and utterly soulful feeling of decades past.
A time when just this kind of music was seen as holding the key to a brighter tomorrow.
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- Anthony Hamilton – Listen free and discover music at Last.fm
Listen free to Anthony Hamilton (Charlene, Do You Feel Me and more). Anthony Hamilton (born January 28, 1971, in Charlotte, North Carolina) is an R&B/soul/"neo-soul" singer and songwriter who rose to fame with his 2003 second album Comin’ from Wh
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