Old school

James Hunter

Listening to James Hunter sing on People Gonna Talk is a disorienting experience: The record release date says “2006”—but the music says “1965.” Hunter’s silky, soulful vocals call to mind Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke, while his backing band provides rhythms to rival the best work of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section that backed Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Paul Simon. And even though People Gonna Talk is Hunter’s first American release, it’s generated quite a buzz: Penn’s own WXPN has praised Hunter for his “timeless authenticity.” The Boston Globe said simply, “Move over Van Morrison and Mick Hucknall.” And Morrison, for his part, seems more than willing—he has called Hunter “one of the best voices, and best kept secrets, in British R&B and Soul.” —T.H.

— James Hunter plays World Cafe Live at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4. Tickets range from $19 to $32. Hunter also performs a free noontime concert on April 28 at World Cafe Live. Registration required at www.xpn.org. For more information, go to www.worldcafelive.com or call 215-222-1400.

Originally published on April 27, 2006