Curtis Harding; Soul Power (Warners)

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Curtis Harding: I Don't Wanna Go Home
Curtis Harding; Soul Power (Warners)

Back in early June we posted a review of this album under our ONE WE MISSED banner because it had appeared through the indie distributor Southbound the previous month.

Well, seems everyone is now playing catch-up because it is out again through Warners and suddenly the reviews are tumbling in.

So we'll just re-post what we said five months back . . .

This fascinating, genre-defying album appeared more than a month ago but has been one of those problematic listening experiences, it's so good it deserves a wider hearing . . . but to whom might it be recommended?

It is very much the sum of separate parts, although often those parts remain distinct, so some background is required . . . because there's much more than just the soul power of the title on display here.

As a child, singer Curtis Harding from Michigan traveled with his gospel-performing mother and later in life hooked up with Cee Lo Green and was one of his backing vocalists.

He also appeared as a singer on some Outkast remixes apparently.

So far, so black soul/r'n'b.

But then he ran into guitarist Cole Alexander of a Georgia punk band Black Lips and together they shared a love of Southern soul. So that comes into the mix.

But so does the garage rock sound which starts to emerge around the midpoint of these 12 tight'n'tidy self-produced Harding originals which bring in soul stomp (the horn-punched Keep on Shining) and a lovely ballad Beautiful People.

Then there's Surf with Alexander's guitar textures pulling you back to a Sixties garage-punk band behind Harding's Southern soul vocals, the driving I Don't Wanna Go Home which owes something to a polite version of the Ramones' pop-rock, and The Drive which is a moody piece over urgent drumming (with a distant trumpet, what sounds like theremin and textural sweeps of guitar)

Oh, and there's the bluesy Drive My Car (a nod to Wang Dang Doodle) and the wah-wah/falsetto pop of I Need a Friend. And Heaven's on the Other Side comes with disco tropes and strings.

So who would this be recommended to?

You, if you've got open ears and quite like artists who defy easy pigeon-holing.

Diverse, stand-alone songs which reveal themselves on multiple repeat-plays, as they have been getting at my place. 

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