James Hunter has certainly paid his dues. Over the span of 30 years, he has worked on the railway, busked in the streets of London, played clubs and theatres all over the world, written scores of original songs, and recorded some of the most original and honest rhythm & soul albums of the last two decades. Recognized by his peers, he’s provided backup vocals and guitar for Van Morrison and opened for Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Willie Nelson, and Tom Petty, among others. He’s been recognized by Grammy and American Music nominations and called “The United Kingdom’s Greatest Soul Singer” by the UK’s respected MOJO Magazine.
Hunter’s latest album, Whatever It Takes, was inspired in part by his new wife, Jessie, a Yank who heard Hunter on the radio and turned up at a show. A year later, they were married in New Orleans and now live in England. It is Hunter’s most ambitious album to date, and Whatever It Takes debuts on February 2, 2018, with ten new James Hunter songs. His gritty, soulful voice was recorded live to 8-track tape and features the long-standing James Hunter Six band—the newest of whom joined over 20 years ago.
Hunter told Elmore: “I wrote ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Without You’ on the tour bus in the States earlier this year, around the same time I wrote ‘Don’t Let Pride Take You For a Ride.’ My wife Jessie was with me and I’d get feedback from her with each line I wrote, scrapping the ones that weren’t up to much and keeping the good ones.
“I was as ambivalent about the song as the narrator initially has been about the object of his love. It’s difficult to write a straightforward romantic song and keep it interesting. Someone who’s in love and can’t wait to tell everyone can empty a crowded pub in five seconds.”
So how honest is the song, then? we ask. “Jessie playfully asked if it was about her and I guess it is. Only without the initial reservations. I was dead keen on her from the kick off.”
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