James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

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James Hunter: I'll Walk Away
James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

This unashamedly enjoyable album is crammed full of songs where Hunter's velvet soulful r'n'b vocals are placed alongside a superbly tight little band of upright bass, saxophones and locked-in drums.

It is only when a sometimes skittering sax or Hunter's angular guitar parts come in you realise this isn't some 60s reissue or lost Sam Cooke album, but utterly contemporary r'n'b pop.

And now comes the surprise: Hunter isn't a black American from Memphis, he's a white Englishman from Colchester.

With swishback hair, he looks like he's just walked out of Sun Studios after spending time with a young Elvis and Johnny Cash.

These 14 effortlessly silky songs, all originals, make subtle nods to reggae rhythms in places but mostly are straight down the line Sam Cooke/Robert Cray soul -- and the have been on permanent repeat on my stereo and car CD player for weeks.

He will doubtless be discovered by a wider audience soon -- Van Morrison has been a longtime fan and supporter -- but you heard him here first. And with any luck you'll be hearing more from him at your place sooner rather than later.

A very addictive, repeat-play album.

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