WIB Listening Party #28: Believe What I Say


James Hunter, Believe What I Say

🍺 Crew Republic Drunken Sailor IPA

Words & photos: Vincent Abbate

Before sitting down to write this Listening Party entry, I went on one of those online “quotes” sites and entered: “looking back.” I was hoping to find something I could use here, some profound words about the importance of reflection. Something to help reign in the urge I, like most of us, have to constantly move forward. But I came up empty. The quotes listed were all about goal setting and achievement and leaving the past behind.

What I’m finding as I write this series, however, is that revisiting the past can be a valuable exercise in slowing down. As music lovers, we’re consumers. If we allow ourselves to be dragged along by media’s omnipresent tether – through Facebook, Instagram, or more traditional sources like magazines and radio – then music becomes disposable. There, it’s all about the latest releases and who’s currently in the charts and when a certain artist will be going on tour again.

But what about the 500 LPs we have resting on our shelves at home? The 1,500 CDs? All the music stored on our hard drives and mobile devices? If an album resides somewhere in our collection, it suggests it once meant something to us. Perhaps it became a favorite for a time. Maybe it is connected to a past relationship, an apartment once lived in, a trip, a car, a concert.

Isn’t that what makes us what we are – the sum of our experiences?

This week’s album is Believe What I Say, the 1996 Ace Records release that signalled Englishman James Hunter’s initial breakout to a broader international audience. It was my introduction to the man who’s been called the UK’s greatest soul singer and recalls our first encounter in a jazz club in Cologne, Germany.

While letting faint memories bubble up and take on sharper contours, I’ll sample the award-winning Drunken Sailor India Pale Ale from Crew Republic, an independent brewery launched by two young men from Munich in 2011.

The music and the beer are set up. Let’s do this.

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