Release Date: Jun 10, 2008
Record label: Hear Music
Genre(s): Rock, Soul
There are some who wrote off James Hunter’s last album, People Gonna Talk, as the work of a misguided nostalgia buff. Evidently, that didn’t bother the guitar-?slinging Colchester soul man, who returns to his 60s touchstones of Marv Johnson and Georgie Fame for the unapologetically retro R&B of The Hard Way. Hunter makes no attempt to hide his influences while pursuing a more sophisticated sound.
Although his commercial fortunes had not yet matched theirs by the time this album was released, James Hunter had been promoting the revival of classic-era soul for a couple decades before fellow Brits Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Joss Stone came along. His command of the idiom has never been less than thorough and convincing -- without knowing that the songs on The Hard Way were newly recorded, anyone might guess that this retro feast was a long-lost gem from 1966. Hunter's voice is equal parts grits and silk, somewhere between Sam Cooke smooth and Bobby "Blue" Bland scorched, and his small combo of sympathetic players could easily have found work in the studios of Hi, Stax, or Chess back when this style reigned.