Like fellow Brit Amy Winehouse, who also worked with producer Gabriel Roth, singer James Hunter has been heavily influenced by fifties and sixties American R&B. He first garnered stateside attention with 2006’s wonderfully anachronistic People Gonna Talk. On Hold On!, his fourth and best CD, he continues to reference that era, even going so far as to record in mono. An elastic and emotive vocalist, he can be as funky and soulful as Jackie Wilson or as silky smooth as Sam Cooke. His songs sound like instant classics and his tight band, which prominently features a pair of sax players, is sensational.
Roth and Hunter wisely avoid a heavily layered, high-tech approach in favor of a stripped-down, live-in-the-studio sound. The instrumentalists tend to take the spotlight one at a time, punctuating Hunter’s terrific, prominently mixed vocals with just the right bit of brass, keyboard, percussion, or guitar.
This album, which will be released February 5, will either spawn numerous hit singles or remind its fans how the charts can fail to recognize great talent. Be that as it may, if Hold On! can’t shift your party into high gear, nothing can.