April 03, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Again positioning himself as an auteur outside the rigid confines of commercial radio, Van Hunt creates ’80s-lovin’ rock & soul on his second uncompromising, melting-pot opus On the Jungle Floor. Though his breath-heavy vocals recall Curtis May field, Prince and Sly Stone are the more resonant influences here. But he’s no follower: Twisty songwriting quirks, tasty guitar licks, and unexpected funk codas result in the welcome return of an original.

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