Anthony Hamilton - The Point of It All
Record Label: Zomba Records
Release Date: December 16, 2008
At some point, in the history of recorded music, we’ve seen the death of just about every genre. The length of purgatory always varies, but with time, each genre will get a new lease on life. It could be the reemergence of an icon or the flair of an undiscovered talent. We saw it in the late nineties with Aerosmith. We saw it when Madonna jumped back into the mix. The days of New Kids on the Block were thought to be forever dead until the Backstreet Boys, and then NSync, ruled the entire music world for the better part of five years in the late nineties. We saw R&B come back to life when Usher came back. We watched Amy Winehouse turn music upside down. And as small as the splash might have been, we watched Michael Jackson come back. Genres will have more than nine lives, it just takes a special someone to bring it back, and keep it alive.
For years, R&B has been in and out of its own self-contained coma. It’ll bounce out for a little bit, but it always seems to be a broken genre, in need of long-term care. A few years ago, I was certain that R&B/Soul music had found a much-needed savior when Anthony Hamilton’s debut album, Comin’ From Where I’m From, was released. To this day, it is in my top ten favorite albums of all time. With a gritty and soulful heart, and an even better voice, he could have single-handedly run away with the genre. However, since that debut album, he’s further and further out of sight – and not in a good way. With his newest album, The Point Of It All, we’re left wondering where he went. The passion and heartache that I felt on his debut has been replaced with layered vocals, generic beats, and a feeling that mediocrity is simply what he was aiming for. Songs from his debut like ”Mama Knew Love,” “Cornbread, Fish and Collard Greens,” “Charlene,” and “Comin’ From Where I’m From” are the type of soulful music that makes you feel like you are standing right next to him as he walks through his life story. They have something that grabs you and never lets go.
His new album is his fifth overall, and none of them stand up to his debut. The Point Of It All starts off with “The News,” a darker, story-telling track that felt like it was going back to the roots that made his debut so special. “Cool” is the second song, and first single, from the album. If he could have made an album with the kind of feel that this song has, it would be an instant classic. The middle of the album is totally unremarkable and the songs simply blend in with each other. It sacrifices the more up-tempo songs for uninteresting ballads. “Soul’s On Fire” brings it back to life a little bit with its loud chorus and dark vibe. “Fine Again” and “She’s Gone” are better than the patchiness scattered on the album, but still never really get off the ground. “Prayin’ For You/Superman” is raw and organic with the feel of sitting around on the porch, clapping and singing, followed by vocals and a piano. In fact, this song could have been on his debut album. But, when I had finished the album, I didn't feel like he was speaking to me. The lyrics were from the heart, but not as deep as usual. His ability to pull you in and speak to you has faded, leaving nothing more than a little tap on the shoulder as a way to get your attention. It's an album that you can listen to a few times and it has its moments, but other than about two or three tracks, I was left waiting for something that never showed up. I waited and waited, but in the end, I had to get up and find my own way home, instead of Hamilton taking me there.
Since his stellar debut, I’ve always looked forward to the next release, but with each new release, I find myself less and less optimistic, instead more and more indifferent. His last four records have produced some great songs, but the albums themselves never lived up to the album that saved the genre. It was there for the taking, but he simply let it all go. And, unless he comes back with something magical, we’ll see this genre slip back into a coma, waiting for it’s new savior as we watch Hamilton vanish from view, forever.
Always cool to see other genres covered. Thanks for the write-up.
Thanks, man. Growing up, I was always more of a soul/R&B/jazz kind of guy, and it wasn't until recently (past 5 or so years) that I got into pop/punk. Anthony Hamilton is one of my favorite artists, so I love letting people know about his music, and other genres.
I wouldn’t mind getting some opinions on it . If you get on there, rate me a 5 & request friendship.
I agree with your assessment up top about how good he is, but I would disagree with a 91%. I don't know what constitutes a 91% on EverHype, but I did just read your review. It was pretty basic, short and didn't detail the album, other than including lyrics to "Cool." Am I missing another part of the review that I'm not seeing? Comin From Where I'm From was a classic, grass-roots album that highlighted his entire life. It was reflective and gritty, giving the listener a deep look into his life and how much he has been through, but struggled through. For me, it is his best album. While his other albums have great songs, that album was his best overall. His new release didn't allow the listener to get into who he is anymore. It had too many layered vocals and too many songs that sounded alike. Apart from a few songs, "Cool" included, it wasn't what I was hoping for. One thing that will never change are his vocals and how good they are, so that was really the highlight of the album, and my review.