Van Hunt – The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets (Album Review)

I have been a fan of Van Hunt ever since I first heard the funk of “Down Here in Hell (With You)”, as he came into the spotlight around the same time as Bilal, and has proven himself to be more than just a disciple of Sly and The Family Stone. His sound evokes those funk artists of the 70s like Curtis Mayfield and the Ohio Players while creating a sound that is all his own, and envelopes the listener in his funk, hitting you from all directions. He has released four albums up to this point and has never disappointed. His fifth album continues his reign as the heir apparent to his influences but also serves as his best album yet. The first cut, “Vega (Stripes On)”, is very much reminiscent of Sly Stone, taking the listener on the fringes of lust and love. The next cut, sounds like it belongs on a fresh 45 inch, or in the tape deck of a 1969 Grenada on “Old Hat”. The next track that captured my ear was “Teach Me a New Language”, which is his ode to a lover for their lovemaking to reach new limits. “(Let it) Soak(N)”  and “she Stays With Me”,  are the cuts that really shows his range , his vocals dance around these songs with enough lucidity and luminescence, that it will definitely make you appreciate just how well rounded an artist he really is. The one cut on the album that truly blew me away was, “Headroom”, a sound and a feeling that I never heard him emit on any other album, a true gem, the ballad talks about the inner fight one finds when they know they have screwed up in a relationship, one where the most stubborn of us all could identify with. “Emotional Criminal” is almost indescribable, as it bring on the full range of emotions, a listener would have, it starts off rough with its funky guitar riffs, than gets smooth enough for you to settle in the groove, but then out of the blue, hits you in the stomach, when you think you know where the song is going, definitely the most fun track on the album. The two remaining ballads are “If I Want to Dance with You” and “A Woman Never Changes”, which definitely are not your standard ballads, the first one, although asking a simple question, does it in beautiful fashion while the latter, is a fly appreciation of women.  The album, an odyssey of light and love, is Van Hunt’s best, and will definitely make new fans of his work.

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