Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
The very best thing about soul, or blue-eyed blues music, is that misery always feels like it could be a party that you're just not seeing properly. It's always been about taking those injustices of love, those moments when you've just stepped in it, and turning them right on their heads, flipping the script in a way that makes them feel like blessings. If not blessings, than something more like the way things go - the way it's always been and the way that it's just going to work out. No one has a shortcut to love and if anyone assumes that someone's had one, they're the biggest fool out there. Even when a person lucks into something good, the prelude was a disaster or the postscript will be a nightmare. No one gets off easy, when the whole picture comes into focus and it's what has always made the endeavor engrossing. Soul and blues music takes these wins and losses and places them about even, making them all seem as if they should be celebrated in one way or another. Most of them came with shares of good and bad. They just ended differently. Ignoring the good just because the bad was so bad is just shortchanging the power of love at its essence.
James Hunter, of the James Hunter Six, finds himself writing these invigorating tales of love and the loss of it, in the same way that Lee Fields and Charles Bradley have been doing of late. They marvel at the ability that finding love - finding that person giving it out unabashedly and with no strings - makes a person feel and if you're only going to enter such things with a sense of dread at how it will all look a year from now, five years from now, or hell, a week from now, it's all a waste.
Hunter scours for the good stuff, for the love that is lasting - whatever that is going to mean. If that means that he'll be with that other person for the rest of his days, great. If it means that he'll simply remember the love that was had, even after it's been formally discontinued, that works too. Either way, he'll be happy that he had it. The kind that he's really trying to track down, however, sounds like the kind that you age with and the kind that ages with you. He sings, "True love is a goldmine/The longer I dig, the more I find," and it's a beautiful thought that someone's capacity to love is never-ending, that there are many more deposits far below the surface. And that is where the celebration begins.