Music

Anthony Hamilton: Ain't Nobody Worryin'

Dan Nishimoto

Anthony Hamilton is proof that you can handle The Truth.


Anthony Hamilton

Ain't Nobody Worryin'

Label: Arista
US Release Date: 2005-12-13
UK Release Date: 2006-01-30
iTunes affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

A third of the way through Anthony Hamilton's fifth album, Ain't Nobody Worryin', the veteran singer delivers a familiar open letter lament. On this, the title cut, he airs out an America that is emotionally scarred, socially scared and financially wrecked. For those versed in the schools of Marvin, Donny and Zimmerman, these themes have remained disturbingly steadfast, only growing in urgency and transparency post-9/11. Simultaneously, constant grievance over these topics has paralleled a peculiar transition. Where "What's Goin' On", "The Ghetto" and "Masters of War" still roil a certain thunder, astray disciples have appropriated these messages as standard pop culture reference points; their constant citation mutes criticism into a given.

So why does it hurt so much to listen to "Ain't Nobody Worryin'?"

The truth is in The Truth. Beyond any discussion of tonality, pitch perfection, song structure, production technique, instrumental arrangement or performance quality is this realm that breathes life into music. Here, Hamilton dwells and has subsequently striven to communicate its essence professionally for over 10 years. Of course, in a world committed first to the immediacy of dollar profits, his path has understandably run afoul constantly: bellied-up record companies, unreleased records and a constant grind living behind the shine. However, with the recent attention of hitmaker Jermaine Dupri, Hamilton finally stands to have his message be heard.

Worryin' is light on garnish and heavy on heart. Pairing with producer/multi-instrumentalist Mark Batson (Seal IV), the two pare down their responsibilities to bare necessities to make the album a stripped and intimate affair. Recorded in the singer's native North Carolina, their cuts have a homemade ease and lucid space ideal for Hamilton's vividly lush vocals. Like Otis Spann exhumed or an earthbound Donny Hathaway, Hamilton reaches, pulls and channels expressions, then squeezes, strikes and declares them like padded hammer blows. Close harmonies on the chorus of "Where Did It Go Wrong?" bum rush a blood-starved pulse, while "Can't Let Go"'s raging devotion tumbles infidelity with the force of quaking earnestness. Even when guest producers like Raphael Saadiq and Kelvin Wooten provide sonic counterpoint, Hamilton's presence consistently grounds each track. In this manner, Dre and Vidal wisely waft "The Truth" under his humid presence while James Poyser dubs out "Everybody" for his spacious faith chatting. Not one to leave the listener overwrought, he still finds time to charm the dancefloor on the throwback ode to the lusciously full, "Sista Big Bones". However, Hamilton's steady center and keen sense of drama makes Worryin' a supreme presentation of soul.

Certainly, Worryin' stirs its share of caution. In terms of the aforementioned technical aspects the album deserves minor criticism, mostly in terms of a consistently canned sound. But the original point needs to be stressed: this isn't the point of Anthony Hamilton. His singing pushes from and reaches for the unspoken majesty that is music, those areas that grace our senses and soul in ways unpronounceable in speech, insensitive to touch, or incompatible with a PowerPoint presentation. In spite of occasionally flawed means, Hamilton has still translated his message on Worryin'. All the listener has to do is listen.

As the year closes, many writers will attempt to condense like experiences from the past 12 months into a series of Top X lists that will endorse some product that you should have purchased or some concert you totally missed out on or some other bit of trivia that revels in its obscurity and irrelevance. However, what this exercise fails to convey is any of the impact or affect that speaks to music's profundity. Instead of conveying its immediacy, a list looks back; as DJ Rupture says, "'The best' is always retrospective." I will amend his follow-up that "good music is always ahead" by saying good music speaks to The Now; this astuteness leads to continued resonance. Herein lies the grounding electricity of Anthony Hamilton. And why his music will continue to move.

9

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.