Anthony Hamilton was nearly two decades into his career, with five albums to his credit, when he released his first Christmas album, Home for the Holidays, in 2014. Hamilton’s Christmas project featured the usual Christmas standards such as “The Christmas Song,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Please Come Home for Christmas.” There were also covers of soul classics, such as James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” and this week’s Slow Jam Saturday pick, “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?”
Originally performed by The Emotions and written by Homer Banks, Hamilton works with producers, The Avilla Brothers, to put a modern spin on the Stax Records classic. As Hamilton croons the lyrics:
“Tis the season to be jolly
But how can I be when I have nobody?
The Yuletide carol doesn’t make it better
Knowing that we won’t be together
A silent night
I know it’s gonna be
Joy to the world, but it’s gonna be sad for me
What do the lonely do at Christmas?
Oh-oh, what do the lonely do at Christmas time.”
The listener feels the pain in his voice. Hamilton, who holds no qualms about his love for his spouse in the real world, entirely sells the song, mainly when the singer goes into the falsetto range. While The Emotions version is still in my rotation, Anthony Hamilton does a beautiful job making it his own.
Final Grade: B+
“What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?” from Home for the Holidays is available on all streaming platforms.