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Anthony Hamilton 

Ain't Nobody Worryin'

Anthony Hamilton's voice is unmistakably unique. He is both guttural in his elucidation of words and phrases, and appealingly smooth in his presentation of them. When he sings "Ain't Nobody Worryin'," the titular cut from his fourth album, he sounds so natural and unprepossessing that he could be shrugging off the phrase. The emotion he imbues it with is evocative and powerful, however, betraying a range of feelings from world-weariness to genuine disgust.

Hamilton is so real that he could easily reign over all the fake crunk and R&B thugs overtaking the music charts. But "Ain't Nobody Worryin'" is a protest against the laissez-faire "stop snitching" attitudes that allow African-American neighborhoods to convulse with outbreaks of crime and violence; and on Ain't Nobody Worryin', Hamilton performs 12 songs about love and life that seem more genuine because he eschews artifice.

That's not to say that he doesn't have a sense of humor. On "Sista Big Bones," he serenades a woman who looks like "a plate of neckbones." And the storyline behind "Preacher's Daughter" -- a woman with a "habit she couldn't stop" who tearfully prays alone because her father is too busy tending to his congregation, "laying his hands on all the women" -- is outrageous in a tragicomic way, though Hamilton wisely notes, "behind closed doors, everybody suffers from some kind of demon."

As a Charlotte native, Hamilton plays up his Southern roots, from the "Southern Stuff" he likes in his women to the bluesy, guitar-pickin' soul that augments every track on the album. The music, produced by Mark Batson, Raphael Saadiq and others, is rich and warm. Far from an anomaly, the level of artistry that Hamilton exhibits on Ain't Nobody Worryin' is what all R&B musicians should aspire to.

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