Saturday, July 7, 2012
Tonight @ BMO Harris Pavilion, Summerfest, 9:45 p.m.
Anthony Hamilton was not an overnight sensation. The soul singer toiled throughout the '90s, recording two albums only to see one tank and the other shelved by his label, while collaborating with any hip-hop act in need of a hook, in order to keep his name out there. That persistence paid off. A pair of singles from his breakthrough 2003 album, Comin' From Where I'm From, including the gorgeous, slow-drip ballad “Charlene,” established Hamilton as one of the biggest neo-soul acts of the mid-2000s. Several fine albums followed, but his latest may be his best. This winter's Back to Love expands on Hamilton's love of '70s soul to reveal him as a lover of all eras of soul music. A grab bag in the best way possible, it bundles funk, gospel and contemporary R&B into a joyous package, and features some of the soul man's feistiest, most gripping songwriting yet. It's difficult to imagine him performing most of these new songs live without breaking into a magnificent sweat.