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Van Hunt

Van Hunt

4.7 7
by Van Hunt
In an era where hip-hop continues to bling-bling itself into rhetoric-fueled self-destruction and neo-soul's worship at the altar of Al Green and Donny Hathaway has become uninspired, it's refreshing to hear an African-American artist who pays homage to his musical inspirations but isn't afraid to break new ground. In the vein of Prince -- well


In an era where hip-hop continues to bling-bling itself into rhetoric-fueled self-destruction and neo-soul's worship at the altar of Al Green and Donny Hathaway has become uninspired, it's refreshing to hear an African-American artist who pays homage to his musical inspirations but isn't afraid to break new ground. In the vein of Prince -- well, when Prince mattered -- Atlanta singer-songwriter Van Hunt draws from the soul, funk, and rock hybrids of the Purple One, as well as Curtis Mayfield and Sly Stone, on his eponymous debut. But what really makes Van Hunt a standout among his peers is his quirky, angst-filled lyrics. On the new wave–tinged "Dust," highlighted by a stripped-down synth, drum, and bass arrangement and ska guitar riffs, he sings, "I'm already insane / I'm already in pain." But what do you expect from a guy who proclaims his father was a "part-time painter and pimp" who faked mental illness to escape life's daily grind? He quickly shifts gears, letting his mellow tenor shine through on the bluesy and by comparison euphoric "Seconds of Pleasure." But for Van Hunt, pleasure can only be followed closely by pain, and the twisted love song "Down Here in Hell (With You)" finds the sadistic lover man asking, "What would I do if we were perfect? / Where would I go for disappointment? / Words without hate would leave me with nothing else to say." By walking a lyrical tightrope between the bitter and the sweet, Van Hunt entangles listeners in his fascinating musical tapestry. Contemporary soul rarely hurts this good.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Hal Horowitz
With too much "rhythm" and not enough "blues", contemporary R&B circa 2004 has become overly slick, commercial, and almost emotionless, no matter how hard the vocalist is expressing his love jones. Which is why Van Hunt's debut is so refreshing. Although the Atlanta-based auteur (he wrote or co-wrote all the songs and plays nearly every instrument) clearly has an early-'70s fixation, his heady mix of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, and Prince makes for a thrilling and often moving album. Like Stevie Wonder, another obvious influence, Hunt spices his soul with memorable melodies, overdubbing his own backing vocals and singing these hip-hop-free tunes like he's lived them. Lyrically, he's loved and lost -- often he seems on the verge of both when he croons "love without pain would leave me wonderin' why I stay" -- but remains hopeful that true romance is just over the horizon. His vulnerable vocals mesh flawlessly with the smoky musical vibe and each track is near perfect in its balance of funk, soul, and R&B. Not just for those into "quiet storm" bedroom music, Hunt has fashioned a classic R&B album that has as many edgy "Family Affair" moments ("Anything (To Get Your Attention)") as smooth grooves (the string-laden "Precious"). If it had been released in 1978, it would still be impressive. But arriving in early 2004, the disc heralds Hunt as a tremendously talented if hardly groundbreaking artist, with a sure sense of craftsmanship all too rare in his genre. Retro enough to recall the golden age of soul, Hunt's music is so classy and timelessly constructed that he never turns into a caricature.
Spin Magazine
Full of sublimely janky '80s synths and melodies that jab and slide instead of blowing neo-soul smoke rings. [B+]
Entertainment Weekly - Neil Drumming
Van Hunt's debut, while more lush and original than recent offerings from retro-obsessed peers like Musiq or Donnie, rings refreshingly dark and disturbing. [A]
Blender - Tom Moon
Van Hunt has a gliding falsetto that reaches Marvin Gaye's heights, Terence Trent D'Arby's taste for melodrama and a touch of Jamiroquai's utopianism.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Van Hunt   Primary Artist,Vocals
Ray Brown   Trumpet
Lenny Castro   Percussion
Matt Chamberlain   Drums
Dionne Farris   Background Vocals
Paul Franklin   Pedal Steel Guitar
Terry McMillan   Harmonica
Wendy Melvoin   Rhythm Guitar
Kevin Ricard   Percussion
Darryl Richards   Alto Saxophone
Nolan Andrew Smith   Trumpet
Amy White   Background Vocals
Larry James   Bass,Percussion
Creed   Background Vocals
Ta-Ta   Background Vocals
Isaac Curtis   Trombone
Jermaine Rand   Acoustic Guitar
Annie Stela   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

David Campbell   String Arrangements
Andrew Slater   Producer,Executive Producer
Howard Willing   Producer,Engineer
Chris James   Engineer
Randy Jackson   Executive Producer
Bill Molina   Engineer
Van Hunt   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Executive Producer,Instrumentation
Melissa Mattey   Engineer
Kevin Guarnieri   Engineer
Tait Hawes   Art Direction
Curtis Whitehead   Composer

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Van Hunt 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is top notch front to back. And I just found out the man was nominated for a Grammy. This man needs to come out with another album to prove he's got more up his sleeve. Anyone looking for a solid piece of music, pick this up. Dust, What Can I Say, Hello, Goodbye, and Seconds of Pleasure will grab you easily. And for you big time overblown romantics, Precious will take you to new heights.
Guest More than 1 year ago
They got skillz they played before Goapele at the concert i went to
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am utterly speachless. Van Hunt is amazing. When I first heard him on the radio I was thinking there is no way the entire cd is as good as seconds of pleasure. I was wrong utterly wrong. This is a wonderful cd. Wow that's all I can say.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This young man's originality reminds me of the masters i.e. Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone and Prince. He has great lyrics, real instrumentation and soul soothing emotional lyrics. Now Van Hunt can show fire in his vocal range with the best of them as well! His guitar riffs are sexy,smokey,blazing and down right psychedelic-( Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn's weeping bluesy guitar riffs come to mind.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Music has become so homegenized and it is rare to come across a musician who so effortlessly captures the complexity, melancholy and joy interwoven in all of our relationships and life experiences. He is truly a breath of fresh air and I can not say enough about this cd. Soul music and especially R&B has not sounded this good in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago