James Hunter Six
Quality Rhythm, Blues, Soul and a little bit of Rock & Roll to Kick Start 2016!
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to receive this album a couple of months ago; and keeping it a secret until now has been quite painful.
I first discovered the delights of this young man 20+ years ago when he was the quaintly monickered Howlin’ Wilf; and a stalwart of the Jumping Hot Club in Newcastle. Since his re-branding as James Hunter his career and quality of albums has thankfully gone from strength to strength.
The rocking If That Don’t Tell You is atypical James Hunter; but better in some strange; mystical way. The production is pin-sharp; allowing the five band members to surround the singer-guitarist with a Wall of Sound not heard in these parts for many years.
Personally I would have placed This is Where We Came In as the opening track; primarily because of the amazing organ intro; followed by the double sax’s of long time side-kicks, Lee Badau and Damian Hand coupled with the sweet Nova tune and the feel of a lovely sentimental song.
James has always had a romantic side; and just about every song here is a timeless love song, in one way or another with A Truer Heart and Light of My Life being quintessential James Hunter; but managing to mine a new seam with his deep lyrics.
The mood swings back and forth from start to finish with high energy R&B songs like (Baby) Hold on and Free Your Mind; both crying out to be played live; while A Truer Heart is a perfect soundtrack for late at night.
Something brand new is the instrumental Satchel Foot; which allows the band to ‘let rip’ in a controlled manner and well worthy of those cool tunes on Bluenote ‘back in the day.’
It’s not easy for me to select a favourite track; as I love them all but In The Dark; which closes Hold On! is as slow, sultry and sexy as the guys have ever sounded; with Andrew Kingsland’s organ sounding like Booker T on a great day.
James Hunter has never wavered from his belief in playing authentic Rhythm and Blues; and it may have cost him dearly some years ago; but now with this; his fourth album with the same amazing band he must surely be on the cusp of monetary success to go along with all of the hearts he’s won in the last 25 years.
As an unadulterated fanboy, I didn’t think he was doing any wrong with his recordings; but now he’s signed to the near legendary Daptone record label and Bosco Mann (aka Gabriel Roth) has taken over the controls – WOW – they have combined to create a little bit of a Masterpiece.
Released February 5th 2016