When: Sat., March 2, 9 p.m. 2013
Like just about every previous album by British singer James Hunter, the new Minute by Minute (Fantasy/Concord) could’ve been made in 1962—the year he was born. Hunter plainly loves vintage Sam Cooke and James Brown, but the crisp, no-frills arrangements and indelible if familiar melodies of his hooky original tunes communicate such grit and soul that it’s easy to forgive him for being such a shameless throwback. Gabriel Roth of Daptone Records produced the album, capturing Hunter’s sharp sextet in splendid mono—the punchy horn licks, Hunter’s strangulated Freddie King-esque guitar stabs, and of course the nuanced, visceral singing, which more than anything else helps the music transcend artful simulacrum. Hunter’s voice has never sounded so beautifully scuffed-up and weary, but it seems likely that he came by the extra expressiveness at great cost: in 2011 he lost his wife, Jacqueline, to cancer. None of the songs address that loss directly (“So They Say” includes the lines “They say out of sight / Is out of mind / But since you’ve gone / I might be out of mine”), but his stories about the travails of finding and maintaining love can’t help but resonate more because of that blow. As he sings in “Goldmine,” “Love’s a gamble till it’s on your side / It comes and goes with the rollin’ tide.” —Peter Margasak Jesse Dee opens.