Anthony Hamilton – Love is the New Black (2021) (Review)

Anthony Hamilton – Love is the New Black (2021) (Review)

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Anthony Hamilton – Love is the new trend

“Back in the dark.” “Black Power!” “Give me five from the black hand side.” “Always bet on black.” In the literal sense, the black color is created by the complete absence of light or the complete absorption of all shades. It represents solemnity, sophistication, or literal all-encompassing darkness. But for people residing in its various hues, blackness signifies all that is meaningful, flying, and relevant to their culture and way of life. The rich contrasts of black life and the layers of emotions in between are what Anthony Hamilton explores throughout his seventh studio album, Love is the new trend.

In the post-pandemic era we currently live in, some artists have used its anomalous reality as an abstract muse or a reason to expand their repertoire into unseen territories or styles. Luckily, the Charlotte, NC native with the gritty, speckled gospel croon does neither. Instead, Hamilton returns with familiar collaborators (9th Wonder, Jermaine Dupri, James Poyser) and his signature Southern grit and lyrics, planting those winning elements, ten toes down, in a rendered 1970s soul. contemporary, but unashamedly. Sometimes these aspects are shimmering and bright, like the wondering and forsaken ode, “White Hennessy,” Curtis Mayfield’s dynamic title track, and “Real Love,” a heavy groove with a sweet, half-spoken, half-sung homage. to Emotion (with FL’s Rick Ross anchoring the bridge). His Gen X roots are also on display on the bass-dropping, floss-dropping “I’m Ready,” featuring ATL’s Lil Jon.

While black can be super voluptuous and sultry for a night on the town, it can also translate to moments of heartbreak, also explored with equal earnestness and angst: her debut single, “You Made a Fool of Me” , reminiscent of Lenny Williams’ “Cause I Love You” in its tortured chorus, and JD-produced “I Thought We Were In Love” throbs like a sore limb while interpolating The Blue Notes’ “I Miss You.” as Anthony laments what was once: “And now things started to change, started to act really strange… what more can I do, I gave you All!” “Threw It All Away” is also sad, but resolved to leave what was once behind and anticipate what will happen once they are finally apart: “I’m feeling stoned, which gets to me/I won’t come down, to fuel your insecurities. I let you take my joy before, now I’m moving on/and I’m not looking back.”

The mark of a true artist means exposing what listeners are used to while mixing and breaking those boundaries. “Pillows” is filled with self-contempt for the gem he threw away, and “I’m Sorry” recalls another love he took for granted and pushed to the brink of no return: “My friends tried to tell me to stop being a fool, that they saw you crying on the other side of town/But I never took the time to see what you needed of me.” Hamilton has even created a new standard, dueting with an elegantly understated Jennifer Hudson on the melodic, melancholy cover of the Carpenters classic turned Luther Vandross, “Superstar” (“Come back to me baby, I left the door open for you baby”).

Whether he laments the decline of a hometown (“Safe”), begs for mercy (“Mercy”) or simply promises to make things right (“Coming Home”), the latest film from Anthony Hamilton is as cool, captivating and charismatic as the hue he pays homage to. Love isn’t always an easy undertaking, but exploring its depths and elevations with its tender, raspy drawl is worth it. Enthusiastically recommended.

By Melody Charles

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