People Gonna Talk
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by John Metzger
Englandís James Hunter has been trying for years to turn his music career into a steady-paying gig, but despite Van Morrisonís high-profile support, he unjustly has remained a virtually unknown commodity, particularly within the U.S. market. Nevertheless, the release of his latest endeavor People Gonna Talk ought to garner him some long overdue attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the album is a hodgepodge of sorts that augments nine new songs with five reworked selections from his previous outings ó one tune was plucked from Believe What I Say, while four tracks were scavenged from Kick It Around ó the entirety of the remarkably unified set glistens with the summery sweetness of late í50s/early í60s soul.
Hunterís modus operandi since his debut has been to adhere quite closely to the stylistic forays of his heroes, and People Gonna Talk does little to signal a change in his approach. Shades of Ben E. King drift through Iíll Walk Away and You Canít Win; íTil Your Fool Comes Home and Riot in My Heart invoke Ray Charles; and thereís enough of Sam Cookeís spirit floating through all of the vocals and arrangements that, at times, People Gonna Talk easily could be mistaken for a long lost recording. Wisely, producer Liam Watson didnít fight Hunterís retro ruminations by trying to place them within a more modern context. Instead, he took them at face value and played them to the hilt. Consequently, he wound up capturing a sound that is timelessly classic. Given Hunterís economically potent guitar licks and paradoxically smooth yet gritty articulations, thereís little doubt that the performances on People Gonna Talk frequently are as impassioned as those of the legends that Hunter sought to emulate. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box