James Hunter's new album Minute by Minute (Fantasy) is tremendously exciting. If you love R&B riffs and hooks and a raw, soulful voice, this one has it all. As I write at WSJ.com today (go here), Hunter has faced his share of hardship. His soul-survivor instincts owe much to his grandmother's R&B collection, particularly records by Ray Charles. [Photo above of James Hunter by Ruth Ward]
Hunter's voice has the same hurt and sass as Charles and Sam Cooke, and on his new album—produced by Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records—he hits the mark on every track. Hunter was discovered by Van Morrison in Wales some years back and then Hunter toured with him.
Says Hunter: "What I learned from Van wasn't songwriting tricks but more of a performance thing. Van has a way of using the microphone like an instrument. He has a built-in compressor in his voice—delivering a consistent level of volume whether he's singing low or letting it all out."
This is my favorite no-nonsense blue-eyed soul album of the year thus far. It's hip, it snaps and, best of all, it's honest.
JazzWax tracks: On Tuesday, the James Hunter Six's Minute by Minute (Fantasy) will be available to sample and download. Until then, you can stream the entire album here for free.
As you know, I rarely post about albums in advance (no point torturing you). But I wanted to tell you about this discovery on the same day as my chat with Hunter at WSJ.com. Stick up a Post-it reminder to circle back on Tuesday, when tracks become active here.
JazzWax video: Here's a trailer that bundles track samples from Minute by Minute...
JazzWax clip: Here's James Hunter's So They Say, because I know you want to hear the whole thing after watching the videoclip above...