Soul Power by Michigan born, Atlanta based Curtis Harding, may be the finest debut album of 2014 to slip under the radar. The thought that it might not be appearing in any best of year lists is almost as heartbreaking as the songs themselves. Spanning 12 tracks and recorded in just two weeks, the record begins with the propulsive ‘Next Time’, where the bluesman croons about the future and settling with his past.
His professional history includes being a former backup singer for CeeLo Green, and then one half of Night Sun with Cole Alexander from Black Lips. No longer in the shadows, Soul Power sees Harding carving his own path in spectacular fashion. “It’s about love – love lost. It’s about overcoming different things,” the singer said in an interview with Spin in April.
As gut-wrenching as a number of the tracks are, like the Bluesy ballad ‘Castaway’, there are a wealth of different sounds on offer, spanning Soul, rock’n’roll, indie and gospel. He’s well housed at Burger Records where variety is valued – the label also look after the likes of Django Django, Jon Hopkins and These New Puritans. Harding describes the album as “slopin’ soul” as he’s taken sounds from all the music he’s encountered and blended it with his love of soul.
Soul Power oozes the kind of maturity found in well-travelled musicians way beyond Harding’s years. His fearless appetite for genre has created a timeless chronicle of sound fit for any occasion. In the hands of a lesser artist the upbeat disco funk of ‘Keep on Shining‘ could sound forced and contrived, but like everything else here it’s a joy.