Anthony Hamilton is like a latter-day Bill Withers, with a gruff, straight-talkin' voice that can holler at you from across the room and then downshift to a gentler, fatherly tone once you draw close.
Next to Cee-Lo Green, Hamilton has one of the best voices in the contemporary soul crop. Yet that voice continues to be paired with an increasingly clinical production æsthetic: programmed beats, bright tinkling pianos, and keyboard horns (for real?) create the template for his latest.
The problem with this sound isn't that it's contemporary or hip-hop-inspired (any soul singer who doesn't live in the present, after all, is unfairly dubbed "retro") — it's just lifeless. Hamilton attempts to resuscitate it with his warm voice, but the record plods on with one mid-tempo nodder after another. Finally, at track 10, a true hook: "Fallin' in Love" trips into a deep, contagious groove, and it's followed by the gospel steam of "Prayin' for You (Superman)." That's nearly a last-minute save, but synthetic agendas beat out raw human emotion in this go-round.