Friday, April 07, 2006

Funky Friday On The Jungle Floor

Van Hunt's self titled debut came out early in 2004. I remember seeing a few of his videos on VH1Soul and thinking that the tunes sounded pretty interesting. By the end of the year I had bought the album and Van had become one of my favorite neo-soulsters. He is an old schooler when it comes to influences - '70s funk, funk rock, Sly & the Family Stone, Prince, Curtis Mayfield - you see what I'm getting at. All of these influences get deftly incorporated into Van's mix, occasionally with breathtaking effect - "Down Here In Hell (With You)" and "Dust" from the debut are classics. He is also a musical virtuoso, playing all or most of the instruments on his records. Dude has chops.

The long awaited follow-up finally got released this week. On The Jungle Floor pretty much picks up from where he left off. It's an equally dizzying brew of styles and flavors. There are a couple of rockers - the debut album had rock-ish tunes, but Ride, Ride, Ride flat out rocks. It's immediately followed by Being A Girl,an electro funker that has the simplicity of a Pharrell tune. There's a nice blues-y duet with Nikka Costa, a Stooges cover (No Sense Of Crime) and several psych-funk jams that are really tasty. Hot Stage Lights was a hit with me right away with it's burbling syncopation, gritty guitar riffage and femme fatale story line. On the slow jam/ballad tip you have Hole In My Heart, where his sweet, soulful croon and smooth, funky backing track seduces your ears. Delicious.

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