I’ve been on Team Anthony Hamilton ever since I saw him rip a stage apart at an Arista Records showcase some eight years ago. His commanding voice (very reminiscent of Bill Withers and Bobby Womack) and go-for-broke stage presence had me singing the praises of his breakthrough effort, Comin’ From Where I’m From, to anyone who would listen-seriously, ask my friends. When the album went Gold (and eventually Platinum), I actually felt a sense of accomplishment. Like my mind vibrations had infiltrated the music-listening psyches of 999,999 other houses and hypnotized them into appreciating Hamilton’s music.

Nearly a decade has gone by, and Hamilton has not only released an additional pair of solid albums, but he’s toured the world, won a Grammy (for his work on Al Green’s excellent Lay it Down) and settled down and had a family. After heating up urban radio with his guest shot on tourmate Jill Scott’s “So in Love”, he’s releasing a new album in December (quick sidenote: why do record labels always wait until the end of the year to release the good R&B albums?). The first single is a casually upbeat jam entitled “Woo”. Co-written and produced (and sounding nothing like previous songs co-written and produced) by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, this is the perfect straddling of old- and new-schools. There’s a hint of Philly soul in the orchestration, but it sounds totally modern. Gotta love an artist who can do that.

I hope the album is as good. Given Hamilton’s track record, I feel pretty confident that it will be.

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