Album Reviews

Curtis Harding – Soul Power (Burger Records)

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Curtis Harding Soul PowerHe likes that Marvin Gaye, some Luther Vandross…and that’s not all. Atlanta singer-songwriter Curtis Harding immerses himself in a wide range of musical styles, rearranging traditional sounds to create an appealing garage soul flavor, further adding to Burger Records’ already impressive roster.

Harding’s not the type of musician who attended some college with his head in the book studying graphs and charts of song composition; he’s the type who’s had the spark burning deep within him for quite some time, having spent his childhood on the road singing gospel music with his mother. Years later, after moving to Atlanta, he landed a gig as one of Cee Lo Green‘s backup singers, further contributing to his talent and charisma.

On Soul Power, he seamlessly transitions between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Funky and loose, he takes us back to Studio 54, eschewing the clichéd disco trend by slapping on seductive bass lines and flavorful brass sections. Simple choruses effortlessly captivate whether he’s singing about spending the night together or calling for change, and when he pours his heart out, you believe every word he says. “Soul isn’t a feeling, a sound or a movement. It’s a connection” he says. “It’s how a handful of humble words can give millions the inspiration to overcome”. That idea exists in “Beautiful People” and “I Need A Friend”, two tracks that would make Billie Holiday proud. By employing an electric Stratocaster, the record steps into a contemporary light, most evident on “Surf,” with Harding propelling into an acid rock mind fuck perhaps influenced by Night Sun, his past collaboration with Black Lips’ Cole Alexander. And even when this guy explores new territory like on “The Drive” with its spacey synths, he confidently strides along, because, well, any time you slap on a hot trumpet, you’re sure to entice.

– Melissa Caruso

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