Curtis Harding has been around a while and I have only just noticed him. My bad. He provided vocals for Outkast and helped co-write The Lady Killer with Cee-Lo Green (though please don’t hold that against him). He has also worked with Cole Alexander from The Black Lips.
Face Your Fear is his second album and was produced by, amongst others Dangermouse. This basically all shows that Harding should have long been on my radar, but he wasn’t until I stumbled onto Face Your Fear a couple of weeks ago and then could not stop listening to it.
The vibe of the album is what you would expect based on the collaborators mentioned above, it is soulful, with a garage sensibility yet still modern. The opener Wednesday Morning Atonement sets a fantastically moody tone with a song that could have come out anytime from about 1969 but which somehow still sounds fresh. Meanwhile, Harding’s voice moves from falsetto to something deeper and all with so much soul. This continues into the title track Face Your Fear which I would try to describe but I love it too much – it is sinister, creepy and lush. On and On is a dancefloor number, Go As You Are fizzes with feeling and sounds almost claustrophobic, while Till the End is more obviously 70s soul pastiche.
I could list all the songs on the album, but instead, I will mention the one song that felt like a bit of a miss-step. Welcome To My World is, for me, a bit too explicitly as sex jam. A duet, it features a breathy female voice talking to Harding as he sings, and the words are a little bit too obvious for me (“Baby, keep doing that. You’re going to put me over the edge. I’m so happy. We came together.”) It is entirely likely I might have a different view if I had someone to play this song with, but I think I’d still find it funnier than sexy.
Otherwise, I really love this album – it is silky and soulful and perfect for listening to by candlelight making Autumn (when it was released) a perfect time of year for the album.