Anthony Hamilton - The Point Of It All (2008)

Anthony Hamilton
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Unadulterated, unvarnished, to-the-bone soul; even after the disappointing setbacks and detours over the years, few artists have retained their self-assuredness and authenticity as Anthony Hamilton. He had a hard road to success, this "country as corn," choir-trained barber out of Charlotte, North Carolina: false starts by way of overlooked, unreleased CD's as he played the background as a vocalist and songwriter. But his talents and tenacity would not be denied, ushering in a steady stream of hits ("Charlene," "Can't Let Go," "Comin' From Where I'm From," "Do You Feel Me") leading up to his fourth studio set, The Point Of It All.

Unadulterated, unvarnished, to-the-bone soul; even after the disappointing setbacks and detours over the years, few artists have retained their self-assuredness and authenticity as Anthony Hamilton. He had a hard road to success, this "country as corn," choir-trained barber out of Charlotte, North Carolina: false starts by way of overlooked, unreleased CD's as he played the background as a vocalist and songwriter. But his talents and tenacity would not be denied, ushering in a steady stream of hits ("Charlene," "Can't Let Go," "Comin' From Where I'm From," "Do You Feel Me") leading up to his fourth studio set, The Point Of It All.

The cover may look solemn and meditative, but don't get it twisted: there's a focus and fervency here this time around, more substance. Being happily married has colored his outlook, demonstrated in tracks like the sunlit "The Day We Met," where he shares how his new love gave his life wings and "taught me how to breathe." Anyone who found themselves swooning at "The Truth" will be reduced to a complete puddle of drool once they hear the Isley-esque "Diamond In The Rough," which finds him being a gallant southern gentlemen offering to be her 'clean up man' and replenish what the last man took away: "Girl, you're looking at change, I'm a man who prays, and I'm strong in faith. God must've had a plan, placed you in my hands, let me lead the way." Can a sister get an 'amen'? And who can resist the boudoir-beckoning, slow-burning title track, where he admits his concern and possessiveness is proof not of a control freak, but of a man in love. The tender contents of his heart spill into every verse and adlib, making it one of his most poignant performances to date.

Not that every song is dripping with honey and rose petals: he wrestles with an unwelcome, obsessive love in "Hard To Breathe,"  and "Soul's On Fire" mirrors the introspective anguish that fueled his trademark smash, "Comin' From Where I'm From."  "Cool,"  the first single, is a plucky, feel-good anthem all-too-suited to our economically challenging times, telling a woman that they don't need stacks of cash or to tear the club up to enjoy one another. Its flipside, "I Did it For Show," tells a salty ex that yes, she does have a replacement: "You know all that talk with Beyonce---'to the left, to the left'? There's nothing left---not here...for you." "Fine Again," another gem, is as steeped in southern grit as----well, a bowl full of them.

Although Mr. Hamilton still guilds the lilly somewhat---"The News" is overwrought and an awkward start to the CD, for example---The Point Of It All demonstrates that he won't let his burgeoning mainstream success dilute his ability to convey that Southern-bred, Withers-meets-Womack new generation of soul.

By Melody Charles

 
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