Album: Anthony Hamilton <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Soulife, RHINO/ATLANTIC
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The Independent Culture

For years, Anthony Hamilton was in a similar position to Nate Dogg and (until recently) John Legend, adding a sprinkling of Southern soul vocals to records by such as Eve, 2Pac, Nappy Roots and D'Angelo while his solo career languished. Until Arista managed to shift a million copies of his third album Comin' From Where I'm From, Hamilton had seen his MCA debut XTC disappear without so much as a ripple, and the Soulife label for whom he recorded a subsequent album followed suit. Now made available through Atlantic, Soulife reveals Hamilton to be the Bill Withers of his era, blessed with a warm, brown vocal tone and a musical manner that blends folksy, acoustic guitar-based soul with a relaxed funkiness and a philosophical attitude. In songs like "I Used to Love Someone" and "Ol' Keeper", Hamilton chides women for their inconstancy, but without sinking to the misogynistic bitterness that's become prevalent in modern R&B; instead, he remains sanguine and suave, smoothly asserting in "Clearly" that "It's clearly understandable/ That I'm not some kind of animal/ I'm just in love with you". Elsewhere, "Georgie Parker" offers reminiscences of a troubled step-child, "Love War" is a duet with Macy Gray, and "Ball And Chain" finds the singer musing wistfully on the prospect of returning to Georgia. A languid delight.

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