James Hunter Six
British Blue-Eyed Soul
- Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018
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James Hunter Media
About James Hunter
“James Hunter is one of the best voices, and best kept secrets, in British R&B and soul. Check him out.” – Van Morrison
“I was a James Hunter fan the minute I heard him sing… If you haven’t heard a real soul singer with a great band and swinging horns then get your shoes shined and get ready. Hunter is coming to town.“ -Chris Isaak
James Hunter was born October 2, 1962 into a working class family in Colchester, Essex. “It wasn’t quite like growing up with the blues in Alabama, but in my part of England, anywhere south of Watford would be considered Alabama.” Among James’ earliest musical influences were his grandmother’s collection of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll and R&B records, and his older brother Perry, “the one responsible for me learning how to play a G chord.”
In the early ‘90s, Van Morrison caught James’s gig in Wales and hired him as a backup singer for several years of touring and recording. James sang on Morrison’s A Night in San Francisco (1994), and Days Like This (1995). But by 2003, Hunter was 41 and without a record deal or a gig. His dreams of a career in music were fading. “I was forced to do laboring jobs through an agency. It was terrible. I discovered that busking was better.” A chance encounter with an American vacationing in London led to a record deal, and 2006 saw the release of his US debut, People Gonna Talk. With its affectionate echoes of Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, it became an airplay staple. LA Times praised his “extraordinary soul voice”; Rolling Stone called it “a treat not to miss.” It made the Top Ten Best Albums of 2006 on Mojo, USA Today and WFUV listeners’ poll, and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album; James was nominated as Best New Artist at the Americana Music Awards.
His next album, The Hard Way, earned even more accolades. Rolling Stone called it “unbelievably awesome” and the New York Times praised Hunter’s “tight, slithery groove” and “sweet growl.” Featuring a guest appearance by avowed fan Allen Toussaint, like its predecessor it reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Hunter has toured extensively, both as headliner and in support of Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Chris Isaak, Boz Scaggs and others.
Now Hunter is back with his fourth album, Hold On! marking his debut on Daptone Records, America’s premier soul imprint and Hunter’s second collaboration with famed producer Gabriel Roth aka Bosco Mann. Hunter feels he has finally found his home for making music. From the driving stompers to the bubbling rumbas, the record drips with the rawness and feeling that Daptone fans have become accustomed to, and cuts straight to the soul of the man who James Hunter fans have come to love. It is truly an artist’s vision come to fruition.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Hunter pays tribute to horn-powered Motown gems and string-laden Philly soul…” –Rolling Stone
“There’s not a false moment here, and the short, pointed songs – all beautifully arranged – evoke classic ’50s and ’60s R&B without coming across as pale imitations.” –Boston Globe
“Whether it’s the rolling pop of horns and B-3 on opener “Chicken Switch,” the put-up-or-shut-up, James Brown-tinged phrasing in “Drop on Me,” or the rhythmic nod to “Evil Ways” in the wrenching “Heartbreak,” Hunter digs deep into the fabric of each tune to wrench every ounce of meaning from it lyrically and emotionally.” – AllMusic
“With a soulful tenor that recalls a range of R. & B. giants, from Sam Cooke to Bobby Bland, Hunter leads his band, the James Hunter Six, through strict tempos and lightning-quick switchbacks…tight, taut compositions, which are rooted in American soul music ” – The New Yorker
“[Minute by Minute] is part rock ‘n’ roll, part jump blues, all swing and swagger. It’s a marvelous fit with Hunter’s own swoons, croons, screams and rips as he and the group time-warp back to the early days of AM rock radio, minus the static.” – NPR