Picks and Pans Review: Van Hunt

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Van Hunt
CRITIC'S CHOICE

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The Hunt for the next great soul artist is over: Meet Van Hunt, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who, with his dynamite debut, has produced the year's best CD so far. Harking back to R&B's golden age, the Atlanta native lovingly evokes such '70s stars as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, while also calling to mind early Prince on tracks like the shining opener "Dust." Think of him as the male Alicia Keys. A true, cohesive album rather than a singles-minded collection of songs, this is the rare disc that won't have you reaching for the skip button. From the sensual blues of "Seconds of Pleasure" to the southern funk of "Anything (To Get Your Attention)" to the Latin rhythms of "Her December," Hunt delivers highlight after highlight. Best, though, is the mellotron-laced "Down Here in Hell (with You)," a love-hate song that honestly explores the need for conflict in some relationships. In his creamy falsetto, he asks, "What would I do if we were perfect/Where would I go for disappointment?" You certainly won't be disappointed by Hunt.

R&B

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