Soul/r&b may not be alive and well, but it is still breathing, thanks to newer artists like Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, and Van Hunt, as well as revitalized elders such as Bettye Lavette, Solomon Burke, and Prince. Speaking of Prince, the influence of his Purple-ness is hard to miss on funky, danceable tracks such as "If I Take You Home (Upon...)" and "Hot Stage Lights," but Van Hunt can also effectively hit upon a slow, seductive late night groove ("Priest Or Police," "Character"). He's not really a great singer, but he holds his own on light and airy ballads like "Hole In My Heart" and the lullaby-like "The Night Is Young;" the latter song features a female-sung hook, while Nikka Costa duets with Van hunt on the singable rock ballad "Mean Sleep." Elsewhere, "The Thrill Of This Love" is an overly repetitive Prince pastiche and "Ride Ride Ride" recalls Lenny Kravitz at his most generic, but "At The End Of A Slow Dance" is much better in the way that it combines evocative synths with hard driving rock riffs. Other enjoyable tracks include the lightly funky and catchy "Suspicion (She Knows Me Too Well)" and "No Sense Of Crime," which has such a nice low-key groove that you'd never suspect it's an Iggy Pop cover! So, as you can tell, this second album (haven't heard the first one yet) by Van Hunt delivers consistent quality, with few clunkers even if there are also few true standouts. You could criticize Van Hunt for having a retro sound and for a lack of innovation - he rarely rises above his influences, including Curtis, Sly, The Isley Brothers - and for making an overly long album that includes two annoying interludes. But it's likely that you'll be having too much fun when listening to On The Jungle Floor to dwell on such nitpicky negatives.
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