By Jon Dawson/Staff Writer
New album: What I’m Feelin’
Artist: Anthony Hamilton
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Anthony Hamilton is arguably the greatest R&B artist of the day, and his new album is another winner.
What I’m Feelin’ benefits from another collaboration between Hamilton and producer/co-writer Mark Batson. Aside from the quality songwriting, the production boasts tasteful loops and modern beats mixed with tasteful acoustic guitar, organ and electric piano.
Whether it’s the hip-hop gospel of “Take You Home” or the sparse “Never Letting Go,” Hamilton’s ability to inhabit each song rivals that of Otis Redding or Frank Sinatra. What Hamilton has in common with those aforementioned legends is a voice that needs no adornment or studio trickery to make it interesting. His ability to convey joy, sadness or melancholy — sometimes within the same song — is simply remarkable.
Much like the working relationship between soul giant Al Green and producer Willie Mitchell, Hamilton and Batson make an incredible team. Hopefully the accountants who are now in charge of programming radio will give this fantastic album some play, because we need more albums like this.
New album: Siren
Artist: Roxy Music
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Siren marks the spot when Roxy Music started injecting more pop sensibilities into their already accessible art rock.
While the band was seven years away from the polished-pop of Avalon, the international hit “Love Is the Drug” from Siren irrevocably changed the band’s trajectory.
“Love Is the Drug” was undoubtedly art rock, but within that framework lurked an unshakable hook and dance floor swagger. Considering how straightforward the song is, it’s hard to believe Brian Eno was once a member of the band.
Throughout Siren lead singer Bryan Ferry’s Holiday-Inn-in-Hades croon was equal parts creepy and majestic. Ferry’s vocal on “She Sells” would give Alfred Hitchcock the creeps, but it’s nearly impossible to ignore. “She Sells” also greatly benefits from the grooving stomp of drummer Paul Thompson and keyboardist Eddie Jobson. In fact, “She Sells” sounds awfully similar to Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Under Foot,” which was released the same year as Siren.
The other stars of Siren are saxophonist Andy Mackay and one of the most underrated guitarists of all-time, Phil Manzanera. Mackay and Manzanera offer up highly original solos on “Both Ends Burning” and “Whirlwind” that are as important to Roxy’s sound as Ferry’s vocals. Instead of relying on blues or classical scales, Manzanera and MacKay seem comfortable hunting down the notes and phrases that other musicians are either scared of or too lazy to search out.
“Siren” was not the best album Roxy Music ever released (that would be For Your Pleasure), but it’s brilliant nonetheless. Even though it was birthed in 1975, its sound is timeless and still influential today.