They say third time’s the charm, and that’s especially true of Soul man Curtis Harding. His previous two albums impressed us, but we couldn’t escape the notion that Harding was holding back on showing us the full array of his talent. New album If Words Were Flowers finds him going all out in the ways we hoped he would. Fearless in its approach and simply going for it in terms of arrangements, it’s an album that blew us away on first listen and kept us so enraptured that we listened to it from start to finish twice since hearing it the first time. No track stunned us more than “Hopeful,” which begins with his backing singers setting the tone, only to be enhanced by an extremely lush orchestra. Then Harding steps up to sing, and he throws down powerful vocals that are both indebted to Soul and Rap. His flow is smooth and hypnotic, but the real story here is the amazing arrangement that swirls and sways around him. It’s swampy, it’s soulful, it’s psychedelic, and while it reminds us of early 70s Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Harding has a sound all his own. It’s not unrealistic to say Harding’s given us one if the best songs and albums of 2021, hands down.
Purchase Curtis Harding If Words Were Flowers: Bandcamp / Anti- Records