In May, the R&B singer Anthony Hamilton released “Back Together,” a head-nodding single built around a sample of Rick James’ and Teena Marie’s towering ballad “Fire and Desire.” This month, Hamilton transformed the forceful original into a whispered lament with a new “Quiet Storm mix” that’s expressly designed to win the allegiance of R&B radio programmers.
The new version of “Back Together” opens with the world’s most delicate acoustic guitar and a wisp of backing vocals that sound like a train passing in the distance. James’ presence is also tamped down — he’s limited mostly to sampled interjections of “wow!” This spare setting shifts the focus to Hamilton’s craggy, tenacious voice, which spills across the guitar as the singer’s anguish mounts: “We promised we’d never grow apart/I knew you’d never leave him/So much for loving you so hard.”
“Back Together (Quiet Storm Mix)” was produced by Kelvin Wooten, a writer-producer-multi-instrumentalist who works frequently with Hamilton when not collaborating with acts like Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, or Raphael Saadiq. Last week, “Back Together” reached more than two million listeners on the airwaves, according to Mediabase, a company that monitors radio activity.
After years in the major label system, Hamilton is now operating as an independent artist; his label is My Music Box.