After two albums recorded in the mid-'90s went unreleased and 1999's XTC was largely overlooked, former D'Angelo backup singer Anthony Hamilton's fourth bid for solo success, Comin' From Where I'm From feels more like a hard-won debut. Featuring savvy R&B production from the likes of Cedric Solomon and James Poyser of the Soulquarians, Comin' is a solid mix of organic period keyboards, guitars, and horns and cutting-edge "beats" and synthesizers. While some traditionalists may balk at the hip-hop-friendly sounds, it serves Hamilton well. Not only does it position him squarely at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, but it also allows him the aesthetic freedom to comment on a wide breadth of social and personal issues that harken back to the glory days of '70s soul without ever feeling dated. Listen to how the choir screams against Hamilton's throaty plea on "I'm a Mess," and it's hard not to think of early-'80s Prince, another artist who balanced a classic soul style with forward-thinking production. However, it is Hamilton's soft, earthy vocal style reminiscent of Bill Withers and gritty, personal lyrics evoking his youth growing up in Charlotte, NC that really carry the album. Like a more feminine-sounding D'Angelo with an eye for personal detail that would make Terry Callier envious, Hamilton's deft combination of world-weary fighter and sensitive poet plays out with both hardcore realism as on "Mama Knew Love," where he sings, "Mama knew love like the back streets/Used to wipe pee just to make the ends meet," and then urban humor on "Cornbread, Fish & Collard Greens," in which he wryly proclaims, "If you want it (I can rock your world)/If you want it (I put the juice in Jheri Curl)." Comin' from where anybody comes from, this is a great album.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar