By Alan Cho
Well goddamn, that was better than I expected.
Spinning through the radio dial, it’s depressing to listen to what passes as R&B nowadays. The current crop of those who laughably call themselves R&B artists play soulless pap my Pomeranian has trouble humping to. On his self-titled debut, Van Hunt shows how it’s done: writing, producing and playing all the tracks. These aren’t the dead beats decomposing on some dance floor–this is soul, this is funk.
Snatches of Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder flit between funky grooves. Van Hunt has the fantastic gift of paying homage to the soul greats, while still infusing every track with a signature style undeniably his.
Slick production and skittering beats found on most R&B joints are dropped for an earthier funk sound with grit. The guitars are appropriately crunchy and the basslines hit deep, all dripped over with his smooth vocals, shifting from gruff rumble to falsetto with ease.
Van Hunt moves with confidence, slinking from track to track. Sometimes, though, you wish the man would cut loose and break free from the tight confines of soul he’s entrapped himself.
Regardless, the CD is undeniably infectious. It’s the perfect music to get the hips sliding across silk and engage in some hard lovin’.