The decade of 2010 has been one of reinvention, where millennials pull bits and pieces from the cultures of earlier decades, infusing them with their own interpretations and liberties. This culminates into a unique yet nostalgic new formula. This process has taken place in the fashion industry, the film industry and the music industry. While SoundCloud rappers and home basement producers pioneer new styles and concepts into the music scene, other artists find success by replicating the sounds of their idols from the past with personal adjustments. Big name artists, such as Lady Gaga with her album “Joanne” and Harry Styles with his self-titled solo album, have followed the trend of bringing the sounds of yester-decades to today’s charts. Curtis Harding is one of the latest musicians to time travel with sound, and he does so elegantly.
Curtis Harding released his sophomore studio album, “Face Your Fear,” on Oct. 27. The project is 11 tracks and 41 minutes of well-crafted and beautifully executed rhythm and blues vibes. Harding embodies a 21st century version of Otis Redding through his vocals paired with precise production. Listeners can hear passion and strain as his singing as he floats over the instrumentation and actively moves his melodies — a sound which is reminiscent of some of R&B’s godfathers. He challenges the divide between artist and listener by creating a conversation-like tone to his songs through his effortless ability to emulate authentic emotions with his voice.
The album’s opening track, “Wednesday Morning Atonement,” perfectly exemplifies the album’s collaboration of various decades of sonic magic. The track kicks off the album with a whistling riff, nostalgic of an old black-and-white film. Four measures later the band comes in, bringing about an aggressive rock atmosphere, which is a beautiful paradox to the innocence of the opening bass line. Harding’s words quickly appeal to the souls of his listeners by addressing them with “Hello children,” which creates an immediate and intimate relationship that lasts for the rest of his soulful music journey.
Throughout the following tracks, Harding faces his fears by traveling through the ups and downs of love and life with the guidance of a musical sound that has been tinkered with and perfected for several decades. As the listener nears the album’s end, they appear to be greeted by the likes of the soulful voice of Nina Simone, but fear not, that is merely Harding closing out his album with his final track of “As I Am.” At the end of Harding’s deeply personal album, he writes a symphonic love letter complete with sensual guitar moments and candy-for-the-ear brass sections, bringing a poignant musical conclusion to the artist’s labor of love.
If you are a sucker for a vintage vinyl record and have an appetite for fresh faces in music, take a listen to Curtis Harding’s “Face Your Fear” for a sweet sounding journey of experiential music.
Email Michael Muth at [email protected].