Anthony Hamilton

With his Sam Cooke-ish vocals that transport you back to the Sixties, Anthony Hamilton's vocal constructions hit your spine and force you to affirm his every notion. On Comin' From Where I'm From, strong but not overpowering production by Mark Batson allows Hamilton to showcase his greatest asset: his voice. When he sings, "Steady hustling trying to feed my family/Too scared to have kids and do like daddy did/'Cause I'm so scared of failing" during the bridge of the title track, his voice oozes with empathy and truth.

Hamilton's lyrics invite you into his experience without the alienating self-righteousness that can be found in so many of his soul contemporaries. On "Charlene," perhaps the album's highlight and the kind of song legacies are built upon, he sings, "Damn the money, diamonds and furs/What about the hard day she had with the baby/All she need is for me to love her," over slow-paced rim shots and kick drums, while organ keys and guitars lightly dance in the background.

The superb consistency of the album is only momentarily interrupted by Hamilton's lighthearted poke at the pimping lifestyle, "Cornbread, Fish, and Collard Greens." While understanding that the song is supposed to be a parody, lyrics like "Cornbread, fish, and collard greens/I got what you need/If you want it ('cause I'm pimp, girl)," sound sorely misplaced in the midst of the emotion and experiences provided on the surrounding tracks. Otherwise his music is full of success, sadness, failure, blame, and happiness -- all the things that make soul blissful. Whether you want to call him a throwback or an example of things to come, the nearly flawless Comin' From Where I'm From is completely on time.