Essentials

Curtis Harding Channels Isaac Hayes on “Wednesday Morning Atonement”

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Curtis Harding, back in May of 2014. Every new release day, I go on Spotify and try out every new album that seems interesting. That morning,  I saw this cover, in black and white, showing a shirtless dude, in profile with a tattoo on his neck, smoking a cigarette and the words Soul Power on it. I instantly figured it was a reissue of some long forgotten artist from the 70s, so of course, I immediately hit play. The more I heard, I was convinced this was some, ahead-of-his-time, forgotten artist from the 70s. Eventually, I learned that Curtis Harding was a former back up singer for Cee-Lo and Outkast and this was actually his debut album, freshly recorded in the 21st century. It quickly became one of my favorite releases that year, so today, I was very excited to hear his latest single “Wednesday Morning Atonement” from his sophomore effort, Face Your Fear, due on October 27 from Anti Records.

Produced by Danger Mouse, this song is in line with Harding’s previous work, featuring rock, psych and soul vibes that recall great artists of the 70s, but with a distinct indie rawness. This time, however, there’s also a futuristic lushness to it all that instantly calls to mind Hot Buttered Soul era Isaac Hayes. All of this is anchored by Harding’s commanding yet laid-back voice, expert sense of melody and truckloads of soul. This broody little symphony features lyrics about an estranged father coming home to his children, yet, there’s a certain bluesy psychedelic darkness to it that keeps this far away from being saccharine, giving it a sense of weary joy. Dim the light, light some candles and incense and turn this up.

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