You'd be forgiven for not knowing James Hunter. But not for long....
While music critics are busy compiling their "Best of 2005" lists,
this out-of-nowhere soul genius has already recorded the first classic album
of 2006. A virtual unknown here in the States, The All Music Guide calls
Hunter "one of the best blue-eyed soul singers to emerge in the late
20th Century." With his first U.S. release 'People Gonna Talk' (GO
Records/Rounder) set to hit stores March 7, 2006, Hunter's cover is about
to be blown.
Hunter's voice has the kind of depth and nuance that invites comparisons
to Sam Cooke; his songwriting craft and impassioned performances recall
Them-era Van Morrison - and like those artists, Hunter's music is timeless,
sounding instantly classic and perpetually modern. He recorded 'People Gonna
Talk' at Liam Watson's famed Toe Rag Studios in London (also home to the
White Stripes' Grammy-winning, platinum 2003 release 'Elephant'). Vintage
analogue equipment is de rigour at Toe Rag, and 'People Gonna Talk' was
recorded entirely "live" - without any overdubs, computers, or
even headphones - resulting in a rich, warm sound that practically dares
the uninitiated to guess its date of origin.
The fourteen songs on 'People Gonna Talk' were all written by Hunter. From
the tight & right ska shuffle of the album's title track (with gorgeous
string quartet accompaniment), to the locomotive groove of "Talkin'
'Bout My Love" to the hushed ballad "Mollena" which rests
on a simple acoustic guitar/saxophone melody bed, the caliber of Hunter's
compositions leave the listener stumped as to how this singular artist has
gone undiscovered up to now.