Thursday, March 23, 2006

James Hunter - People Gonna Talk (2006)

Do you like Sam Cooke spiced with a mild dose of Otis Reading and a pinch of James Brown? If that recipe is tasty to you, have a spoonful of James Hunter. Britain’s Hunter is a modern afficionado of 1950’s and 1960’s American R&B who just released his first stateside CD, People Gonna Talk. (He has two previous releases in the U. K.) Hunter wrote and arranged all fourteen tracks. He plays guitar and sings in a style reminiscent of Cooke but with just a bit more grit. He is obviously a fan.

Hunter has a vibrant band that features two saxophone players, a tenor, and one of my favorite woodwinds, the baritone sax. In addition to Hunter the band’s other distinguishing feature is the sax duo who can play tightly as a unit or free and easy on one of their many solos.

Hunter’s writing is an asset too. His songs are all about relationships but despite the subject matter there is little sentimentality in his writing. Lines like “No one’s calling you a liar but there’s no smoke without fire” from “No Smoke Without Fire” and “Strike me dead if I don’t love you and I’ll be damned if I do” from “You Can’t Win” show there is no cheese factor in his lyrics.

The songs are compact, to the point, danceable, and radio ready. Even the great title track’s ska beat is accessible and it is receiving radio airplay on appropriate outlets.

Look for this CD to be on many music fans "Best Of 2006" lists at year's end.

Hunter is just as satisfying in concert. He appeared at World Café Live in Philadelphia on March 9, 2006 and completely won the audience over with his stage presence as well as his music.

You can sample People Gonna Talk on Hunter's website.

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