Comin' from Where I'm From
The thing about neo-soul is that, typically, it's heavy on the neo, light on the soul. Enter the corrective genius of Anthony Hamilton's Comin' From Where I'm From, the straight-up modern soul set so many of his peers had promised so many times before. First off, consider the production. Sure, hip-hop beats and synths are present and accounted for, but they flavor the early-'70s-vintage (i.e. real) instrumentation that forms the album's deep, earthy groove. Secondly, and more importantly, Hamilton's a natural-born songwriter wrapping his goes-down-like-good-bourbon vocals over some serious personal and social issues. "Mama knew love like the back streets/Used to wipe pee just to make the ends meet," he sings, Bill Withers-style, on "Mama Knew Love," as evocative a slice of social reality as anything on Songs In The Key Of Life. The on-bended-knee-plea "Baby I'm A Mess" will tear you up inside. "Cornbread, Fish & Collard Green" is as satisfying a freak jam as anything Prince ever wrote.