Anthony Hamilton epitomizes consistency – period. Although the Grammy-winning soulful singer/songwriter is a critical darling, he has remained throughout his career incredibly underrated. Slowly, but surely, Hamilton would breakthrough with his 2003 album Comin’ Where I’m From, eventually being certified platinum. The rest of Hamilton’s discography wouldn’t reach platinum status, but the gritty singer would snag two more gold albums. Amazingly, somehow, Hamilton has never had a top ten album.
Hamilton has released four notable studio albums: Comin’ Where I’m From (2003), Ain’t Nobody Worryin’ (2005), The Point of It All (2008), and Back To Love (2011). Additionally, Hamilton’s first album, XTC (1996), is unavailable, while shelved album Soulife was released via Atlantic and Rhino in 2005. A unreleased compilation album, Southern Comfort, arrived in 2007, via Merovingian, sporting some worthwhile songs.
Given Hamilton’s immense artistry, choosing just 10 favorites was incredibly difficult. There are omissions, which speaks to just how great Hamilton is. But here goes nothing: here are 10 favorites spanning through Anthony Hamilton’s career.
1) “Charlene” (Comin’ From Where I’m From)
There could be a strong argument this isn’t even necessarily Hamilton’s best song (“Can’t Let Go” is definitely right on it’s heels). But, “Charlene” was the song that finally gave a much-deserving soul singer his breakthrough.
2) “Can’t Let Go” (Ain’t Nobody Worryin’)
If you weren’t paying attention to the lyrics on this organ-drenched record, you would think that Anthony Hamilton was singing a gospel song. “Can’t Let Go” didn’t reach the same chart milestones that “Charlene” did on the Billboard Hot 100, but #70 for a retro-soul record in 2005 is definitely an accomplishment.
3) “Comin’ From Where I’m From” (Comin’ From Where I’m From)
On the title track from Hamilton’s ‘first’ album, the listener can feel the pain that Hamilton went through. Watch the video, and the realistic, authentic nature of “Comin’ From Where I’m From” is heightened to an even greater level.
4) “Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens” (Comin’ From Where I’m From)
“Cornbread, fish, and collard greens / I’ve got what you need, if you want it.” “Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens” would have definitely been at home some time in the 1970s. This southern soul cut may be old school, but even 11 years since its release, it could easily smoke more popular, more commercial R&B records.
5) “Woo” (Back To Love)
Hamilton’s 2011 album Back To Love still retained some of the musician’s neo/retro-soul styling, even if that sound wasn’t particularly dominant in R&B at the time. That said, the adult contemporary side of Hamilton was brought to the forefront throughout the album. On “Woo,” the promo single and best track, Hamilton masterfully blended soul and adult R&B.
6) “I’m A Mess” (Comin’ From Where I’m From)
Before “Can’t Let Go,” Hamilton raised the spirit on another gospel-infused soul cut, “I’m A Mess.” When the background vocals rise to the occasion during the vamping section and Hamilton ad-libs, it feels right to say “go ahead” or “Amen.”
7) “Ain’t Nobody Worryin’” (Ain’t Nobody Worryin’)
“Ain’t nobody worryin’, when the shots fly high and the sirens start to ring / ain’t nobody worryin’ / when the kids die young and the mothers are suffering.” The title track from Anthony Hamilton’s second (third) album is something of a modern day Marvin Gaye cut. Why – because of the socially conscious touches. No, it doesn’t sound anything like “What’s Going On,” but the contextually, there’s a connection.
8) “The News” (The Point of It All)
The opening song from The Point of It All is chocked full of gospel-infused soul. “The News” is just what it says it is – a report of the heartaches, tribulation, and situations occurring everywhere. With elephantine emotion, Hamilton and his backing vocals sing “Brothers gon’ work it out…”
9) “Glad U Called” (Southern Comfort)
If you have never heard the more ‘street smart’ side of Mr. Hamilton, Southern Comfort’s mf-bomb dropping, high-flying “Glad U Called” has it. If the language seems too liberal for the refined, gritty soul singer, look past it and embrace how truly great this tough-minded modern soul classic is.
10) “The Point of It All” (The Point of It All)
This Grammy-nominated song was arguably the smoothest from The Point of It All. On this brilliant title track, Hamilton sums things up by sing, “and the point of it all / is I love you.”