"2006 Grammy Nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year"
Van Morrison calls James Hunter "the best voice and best-kept secret in British R&B and soul." And the Colchester native and former busker does, indeed, sound like a one-man blue-eyed revival on his U.S. debut, People Gonna Talk. He navigates 14 self-penned ska (the title track), soul-blues ("Kick It Around"), and primal funk ("No Smoke Without Fire") tunes with panache. Hunter's voice unerringly carves out graceful melodies and soars into falsetto at whim over his horn-sparked band as he digs through his vast bag of traditional, stinging blues'n'soul licks on electric guitar. But... there's something missing. Although the disc was cut live in the studio, it lacks the vibrant energy of his stage performances. And Hunter borrows so extensively from his influences that he sounds like he's covering Bobby Bland, Howard Tate, James Brown, and the Studio One roster rather than traveling his own path. Nevertheless, as Morrison intimates, Hunter's estimable singing and playing will please fans of classic R&B and soul. --Ted Drozdowski
On his U.S. debut, James Hunter proves to be a man of impeccable taste who has learned from his influences rather than simply imitating them. 'People Gonna Talk' features 14 original tracks written and arranged by Hunter, who partnered with producer Liam Watson to create a wonderfully rich, classic soul sound. The album was recorded at Watson's Toe Rag Studios in East London (also home to The White Stripes' 'Elephant'), where vintage analog equipment captured the warmth of Hunter's authentic and heartfelt sensibilities.