Anthony Hamilton's success hasn't come easily. His debut was lost amidst his record label’s financial struggles; his sophomore effort XTC floundered after a lack of support from the industry; and after shifting to Soulife (an indie-like subsidiary of Atlantic), his third outing was shelved when the small company went bankrupt. Although his fourth album Comin' from Where I'm From eventually went platinum and earned the songwriter and vocalist several Grammy nominations, its ascendancy wasn't immediate. Coming in the wake of Hamilton's previous misfortunes, many wondered if he ever would catch the break he deserved. Fortunately, once the spotlight finds someone, it's reluctant to move elsewhere — at least for a little while — and salvaged from the ashes is Soulife, a collection that compiles the previously unreleased material recorded by Hamilton between 1999 and 2001. Several songs were re-recorded and tweaked, likely to make them sound a little more like 2005.
Masterful soul vocalist Anthony Hamilton has been compared to greats including Stevie Wonder, Bobby Womack, and Bill Withers. His signature sound, fusing timeless '70s soul with current R&B sensibilities, shines on the stellar Soulife. Co-written by Hamilton, it includes songs recorded with veteran producers such as Grammy-winner Mark Sparks. These songs showcase the singer's amazing ability to establish a mood with just a few notes. Hamilton's smooth and precise delivery provides soulful depth to the sensual rhythms of Soulife. Tortured love odes Ol' Keeper and Love is So Complicated show off Hamilton's malleable, soul-drenched voice, which has become famous for playing off others as he does here with Macy Gray on the sultry Love and War and with Sunshine Anderson on the old-school Last Night. His storytelling skills are on full display on Georgie Parker, which glides right into the exquisite island ballad Day Dreamin'. In Ball And Chain Hamilton demonstrates his remarkable vocal ability while expressing the longing desire to break free from life's speedy track and move towards a simpler life of happiness.
Soulife captures an artist on the precipice of long-awaited success, bringing to deserved light some beautiful compositions. Despite its delayed arrival, the resurrection of Anthony Hamilton's Soulife proves to have been well worth the wait. For many Anthony Hamilton could well be the future of real soul, and there is evidence aplenty on this release that he knows his musical history and can adapt it into something new and vibrant.