One of the good things about festivals like SXSW is that you both get to see artists you have never heard of, and also that you get too see artists you have heard on CD, but never seen live. James Hunter is one of these, with some critically acclaimed CDs, plus one of the best songs after 2000, People Gonna Talk. I saw him at the Americana Association night at Antone’s.
James Hunter is a born and bread Englishman who sings soul like the American 60’s soul artists. His live show is no frills, himself, keyboard, bass, drums and two saxophones – tenor and baritone. The sound reminds me a bit of the Daptone sound, which in no way is a bad thing.
His songs are strong, and his guitar playing is effective, with a typical twangy and retro sound. The songs also have a retro feel, much the way Amy Winehouse sounded when she came along. The difference is that James Hunter started out some years before Winehouse, releasing his first CD in 1996. The well-deserved success came with the CD and the song People Gonna Talk in 2006.
The album was nominated for a Grammy. His next CD was The Hard Way in 2008, but after this CD Hunter took time off from playing to stay with his wife who was diagnosed with cancer. She eventually died in 2011, and Hunter came back with his latest CD, Minute by Minute in February.
This year James Hunter is touring extensively in the US and some places in Europe, and I really recommend to go see him when he comes by. You can see his tour dates and cities here.
All the pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.