Retro rip-off artist or respectful interpreter of classic styles? English vocalist and guitarist James Hunter walks a tightrope between interpreter and impersonator. Complete with brassy choruses, tailored suits, and old-school charm, Hunter's classy brand of soul and R&B evokes Sam Cooke's smooth croon while sidestepping the pitfalls of cheapskate cover artists and interloping impersonators. Heed this: Hunter is no Rat Pack wanna-be like Michael Bublé or other retro '50s vampires of his ilk, sucking the life blood out of classics from the jazz and soul music canons. Hunter writes his own tunes, 14 to be exact on his latest album. Recorded completely analog and live at London's Toe Rag Studios, Hunter's third disc, People Gonna Talk, feels effortlessly soulful, equally at home at bluesy juke joints or chic martini bars. Moreover, Hunter gets the Euro-soul stamp of approval from another R&B songwriter with slippery vocal chords, Van Morrison (Hunter played guitar on a couple of mid-'90s Morrison albums). He claims: "James is one of the best voices, and best kept secrets, in British R&B and soul. Check him out." On this point, trust in Van Morrison.
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