After signing with Go Records in England (distributed by Rounder in the United States), James Hunter finally earned his due with the 2006 album People Gonna Talk. Mixing Stax-Volt era soul with danceable blues and snarling guitar rides, the album proved a winner with critics and retro music fans alike. Subsequently, the critically acclaimed disc was nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album. Hunter and his five-piece band toured with the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, which allowed him to pick up many new fans along the way. At a time when Amy Winehouse and Corinne Bailey Rae were garnering worldwide acclaim by drawing from many of the same stylistic sources, Hunter's audience finally discovered him. More confident than ever, Hunter went back to Liam Watson's Toe-Rage Studios in London to record The Hard Way. Working with New Orleans R&B great Allen Toussaint, he conjured a self-written set that rocked harder than any of his previous albums. With the horns up-front, his guitar work economical but tough, the sound was danceable, and it supported Hunter's expressive soul vocals with mid-60s soul-era panache. Released through Hear Music, which services the Starbucks chain of coffee shops, the album quickly became his best seller to date, making Hunter a star in the process.