Something like blues, something like R&B, something like pre-Beatles rock. James Hunter is simply something else, and this soul-lifting, groove-tastic lead track from his forthcoming album only confirms it.
Offered with a raw emotion, not to mention a snappy horn-and-organ counterpoint, “Minute by Minute” heralds a new collaboration with Gabriel Roth, co-founder of Daptone Records. If the rest of it plays with half this much power and hurt, Minute by Minute will be Hunter’s best album yet — and that’s saying something.
Too hopeful to be knocked all the way down on this love-lorn throwback, the British belter swings and cries, barks and shouts — like a heel-toeing James Brown one minute, a down-trodden Bobby “Blue” Bland” the minute after that, and then a thunderstruck Sam Cooke the next.
These Brooklyn-recorded sessions do a particularly good job of highlighting the punchy contributions of baritone Lee Badau and tenor man Damian Hand, too. The old-school Hunter’s previous albums had been done at London’s lo-fi Toe Rag studios, an environment that never afforded his band this kind of separation. Every thwack on Jonathan Lee’s drums resonates with the immediacy of a front-row juke-joint seat.
The release of Minute by Minute, due February 26 from the Concord Music Group’s Fantasy imprint, coincides with the new U.S. tour for Hunter, to include his first-ever SXSW appearances this March in Austin.