Once 2004's Comin' From Where I'm From began to gather steam, it became common knowledge that Anthony Hamilton was no newcomer. New fans discovered that Hamilton had two other albums in his past. First, there was XTC, an album that was supposed to come out around 1995 but didn't see the light of day due the Uptown label's untimely death; MCA rescued it, released it, and were content with letting it slide into oblivion. Good luck finding a copy. Later on, Hamilton became affiliated with the family-like Soulife label, which disintegrated before he was able to release yet another album. Talk about rotten luck. The appropriately titled Soulife, released by Atlantic/Rhino in 2005, presents ten (and perhaps all) of the songs that were due for release on the album for Soulife, in addition two previously released songs, including "Love and War," from the Baby Boy soundtrack. According to the liners and credits, the material was originally laid down between 1999 and 2001, but several songs were re-recorded and tweaked, likely to make them sound a little more like 2005. As evidenced on Comin' From Where I'm From, Hamilton's voice is best suited for spare arrangements with dusty beats, sensitively played keyboards, and distant wah-wah guitars. Soulife is comparatively slick, which might throw some of Hamilton's newer fans, but there's still plenty of down-home grit to keep ears glued to the speakers, in addition to the main attraction -- the earthy, listen-to-it-all-day voice. While not as wonderful as Comin' From Where I'm From, "Georgie Parker" alone makes the album a must for anyone won over by "Charlene." The song will break your heart and sink into your subconscious with one play, even if you aren't paying any attention to the compelling lyrics. After the first listen -- one of those "Everyone I know must hear this right now" moments -- you'll feel like you've pulled up a golden truffle.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Macy Gray