This is a review of "For Adults and Brave Children" recorded by Shaun T Hunter. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2004.
Shaun T. Hunter has an album on his own label called "For Adults and Brave Children". He has sent 6 of its 15 tracks for review.
They are expertly performed and well recorded. Shaun's general approach is to set story songs into a gentle setting with acoustic guitar and unobtrusive bass, drums, electric guitars keyboards and backing vocals. The lightest of strings appear when needed. The parts are all much less than the whole and resist detailed listening. Each strum, beat, harmony or line has come from the bank of dependables that have embellished easy listening soft rock music for two or three decades. Most of us raggedy rock and stumble musicians simply couldn't hack it at this level. Shaun's voice is good too. He purrs, whispers and sometime goes a little husky and poignant. He's note perfect and his tunes are convincing and stable.
So what's the motivation? The package expresses deep love of the musical process, with lingering shots of eq pots, tape rollers, speakers and lyric sheets. The lavish attention to the detail of production and the meticulously balanced arrangements are not simply calculated to smooth a passage to Radio 2. He really loves this stuff. A full-colour glossy-printed 12 page booklet of lyrics gives the deeper game away. Hunter has stories to tell, and he does want to spread his word. His diction is good and the voice is given pride of place in the mix. So the words are first and last.
They are in the Taupin/McLean/Rice (Tim, not Damien) tradition of intensely written and meaningful stories. To my ears they have a leaden obviousness that puts them right out of contention. But I know that current trends favour the direct and the unsubtle, and there will be plenty of customers for lines like "She's hot black coffee at the end of the day / And when she gets horny the sound of a / porsche would make". Personally the combination of emotional indulgence and sloppy syntax just makes my toes curl. Or how about ""The sky give birth to sadness / A cloud is falling down / A melancholic bubble who's painted on a frown". These are disjointed words thrown in the general direction of something true, but which depend on close personal empathy before they can mean anything. The soft and smooth music will assure that empathy for many people and Shaun T. Hunter could easily be a big star. At that point, readers of Leeds Music Scene would probably be keen to keep their distance.