The first time I saw Van Hunt was when he performed on Soul Train. His slow, soothing ballads stood out amidst the booty shaking and gyrations of the Soul Train dancers that were featured before and after his performance.
For many, this was the first time we would hear of Van Hunt, although he's been behind the scenes for nearly a decade, writing and producing for such neo-soul artists as Joi, Raphael Saadiq, and Dionne Farris. With his self-titled debut CD, he came out as a strong neo-soul force and made a name for himself.
However, all things must change and evolve and that is exactly what Van Hunt is doing. After the annoying intro, the disc starts out with â€śIf I Take You Home,â€ť which alerts the listener the â€śnewâ€ť Van Hunt is a strange and exciting departure from the old one. What's new? More upbeat grooves, more rock and roll, and more in your face funk. Personally, I didn't like it when I first listened to the album but it grew on me after repeated listens.
The â€śnewâ€ť Van Hunt channels Lenny Kravitz, Prince, and even the Beatles without overtly trying to copy them. The last Van Hunt album was Chill Out With Your Girl, with such songs as â€śSeconds of Pleasure,â€ť and â€śDown Here in Hell (With You).â€ť The new Van Hunt just wants to party. When the dude screams, â€śGet on up and dance,â€ť on the track, â€śRide, Ride, Ride,â€ť you know that he's not taking himself seriously. Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions to his party rule. â€śDaredevil,â€ť which is my favorite track of the album, and â€śThe Night Is Young,â€ť slow things down and show a bridge between this current album and his former one.
The verdict? Give this CD more than one listen. On the Jungle Floor might shock some listeners who were expecting a more laid back sound, but it will grow on you after time. Van Hunt has created one of the best albums of the year, in my opinion, and he surprisingly dis not have to imitate anyone or any trend to make that happen.