Southern Comfort isn't a new Anthony Hamilton album, but a compilation of tracks he recorded before striking platinum with 2004's Comin' From Where I'm From. Unlike Soulife, however, Southern Comfort isn't a complete album, but a series of inspired demos. It's a testament to his strengths as a writer and composer that even these early, slightly unfinished cuts speak as powerfully as his later material. On "Why," he evokes a man who can't find his own identity. As always, Hamilton keenly observes black life, including his own, without resorting to political harangues or stock stereotypes. His stock-in-trade is everyday people, not super thugs or ghetto rock stars; although his subject matter is commonplace, his excellent songs certainly aren't. 4 stars.
Anthony Hamilton performs at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. 8 p.m. Wed., April 18.