Anthony Hamilton

Ain't Nobody Worryin'
(Arista)

Some soul singers have sung their joy -- Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder not least -- and made their best art. But Anthony Hamilton comes from a bluesier tradition, with a lilting, earthbound voice that knows struggle, and a masterwork in 2003's heavy Comin' From Where I'm From. Ain't Nobody Worryin', despite overall smoother production and formulaic funky love on tracks like "Southern Stuff" and "Sista' Big Bones," is not as cheery an album as it sounds at first. The title track is actually a warning against apathy in the face of suffering. And "Pass Me Over," the album's most effective and original blues (though not as inky and infectious as Hamilton's 2003 radio hit "Charlene"), sounds like a harmless, breezy gospel number until you realize it's sung from the perspective of someone so far down that he's sleeping until Jesus comes back. Only the "Distant Lover"-ish "Change Your World" sounds wrong: Despite the song's message of transformation, the world needs Hamilton more for his guts than his croon.

 
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