Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You: The Anthony Hamilton Edition

So idolator picked up on Southern soul man Anthony Hamilton's new (kinda) single "Cool" today. The post is entitled "Anthony Hamilton, R&B's Tough-Luck Story" and bemoans the fact that he gets the music industry's back burner when it comes to video rotation (besides Vh1 Soul and mtvU) and airplay outside of urban stations. The tone is all, he's so great, he has gold and platinum albums and his new video clip is so "charming" so why does he get snubbed when it comes to exposure on mainstream video channels? Well, Dan Gibson of idolator is right; the video for "Cool" is charming and should get more attention. And yes, Hamilton is good. But good shouldn't mean boring. And that's what Hamilton is slowly becoming. Very. Boring. And it hurts me to say that, because his voice is so amazing. He has always been a vocal throwback (in a good way), to Al Green and Otis Redding: his voice drips with feeling and grit. He's great live too. But the best part of an Anthony Hamilton song should never ever ever be a David Banner (yes, that David Banner) rap. 

The song is all about love providing everything this couple needs and the video follows suit: they have no milk for their coffee, their TV breaks, their car overheats and Anthony gets hit by lightning while fixing it (with the assistance of Mr. Banner, who drops the hilarious line: "we can call our white friends up and drink our Miller Genuine Draft/then kick 'em all out of the house, take us a bath") but through it all they laugh and shake it off because they have each other. Sweet sentiment and all, but sonically, the bouncy banjo hydraulics are way played and it is so repetitive, I feel like I'm listening to a snippet on loop. It sounds like a Nappy Roots song from like, 5 years ago. This bums me out. When did Anthony Hamilton become so derivative? His 2003 album Comin' From Where I'm From is so beautiful and textured with his gravelly and gut wrenching vocals ("Charlene" makes me cry, "Float" makes me wanna take my pants off and the James Poyser co-written "Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens" is one of my all time favorite tunes) and every single song sounds rich and layered with Muscle Shoals like complexities. His 2005 "sophomore" effort (he's had a few compilations, a barely recognized 1996 debut and some re-releases too) Ain't Nobody Worryin' isn't my favorite but it had solid production from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, ?uestlove and James Poyser and garnered major critical acclaim. But if this single is indicative of the rest of his upcoming The Point of it All (which is slated to drop this December, after being pushed from it's original summer release), I'm even more concerned about him than I was when he sang the chorus on Nick Cannon's plea to save the babies. And Dan is right again, Hamilton has been around for a minute and deserves a great amount of success (fun fact: he sang back up for D'Angelo during the Voodoo tour) but I'm not rooting for this "tough-luck" story until the new album drops. Oh, and your contribution to the Soul Men soundtrack is NOT helping. Hamilton, you're on notice. 


Dan Gibson said...

I think you misread me a tiny bit, but such is life. Still, one single making a grab at commercial success isn't something to hit the panic button over. Sure, "Good" is no "Charlene", but there's a decent chance the album is still solid. I get that it's blogging, but a little optimism never hurt anyone. Frankly, I'm just hoping the album actually comes out.

Isabelle said...

Very fair Dan, and thanks for the comment! Didn't mean to misread you, but perhaps you misread me as well. It isn't that the single "Cool" making a grab at commercial success bothers me; on the contrary as I said, he deserves great success. I'm just bummed that the quality of his stuff seems to be losing steam. This tune isn't a progressive change for him musically or a classic Hamilton style song and that concerns me, because maybe the album is filled with "Cools." But then again, as I said, I am reserving judgment until it drops because perhaps it is filled with "Lucilles." Here's hoping.