The James Hunter Six "Hold On!"

James Hunter is a romantic. That’s obvious from the moment you hear the first song from his new album. Hold On features ten songs about the many stages of love, from its initial budding, to long term devotion, to its tenuous hold on the heart. Hunter delivers the goods with a graveled voice that leaps into falsetto shouts. His vocals are imbued with passion, power, a subtle sense of humor, and an honesty that conveys the valleys of heartbreak and the peaks of ecstasy.  

The James Hunter Six have landed on Daptone Records with the label founder, Bosco Mann, producing their album. It’s the perfect home for a band rooted in old-time rhythm and blues, soul, rock and roll, and boogie woogie. Daptone has made it its mission to create authentic soul and funk using vintage equipment. The band haven’t changed their approach, rather their sound is enhanced by more intricate arrangements and additional keyboards.

Other than Hunter’s vocals the band is powered by squatting baritone sax, offset by tenor sax. Bass and percussion hold supporting roles while Hunter’s lead guitar brings back memories of the earliest of rock guitar solos. Bosco Mann’s influence can be heard in the use of organ. It offers piping organ edging to the ballads “Somethings Calling” and “A Truer Heart,” and a mock heralding at the opening of the samba inflected “This Is Where We Came In.” “Free Your Mind (While You Still Got Time” matches a James Brown rhythm to a swinging mod arrangement. The instrumental “Satchel Foot” sounds like it’s ready for an Austin Powers soundtrack.

Hold On is as close as you may get to time traveling this year, so plug in your headphones, or pop in your earbuds, and imagine you’ve just entered a posh London pad in 1964.

Rosemary Welsch