Personnel: Curtis Harding (vocals, guitar, background vocals); Oliver Hill (violin, viola); Ali Jones (cello); Raymond Mason (French horn, trombone); David Christian (drums); Elizabeth Pupo-Walker (percussion); Amber Mark (background vocals).
Recording information: 30th Century Studio; Sound Factory, LA; Valentine Studios.
Photographer: Matthew Correia.
Curtis Harding's debut album, 2014's Soul Power, was a strikingly confident work that demonstrated he was one of the smartest and most gifted artists to emerge from the retro-soul scene, a vocalist and songwriter with a respect for the past and a vision of the future. It turns out Harding was just getting started; his second full-length, 2017's Face Your Fear, is an even more ambitious set of material, an exercise in psychedelic soul that feeds from a wide range of sounds and influences while still reflecting the mind and soul of Curtis Harding at every turn. While the production and arrangements on Face Your Fear are clearly informed by classic R&B and funk sounds of the '60s and '70s, along with the trippier edges of psychedelic soul, Harding and his studio collaborators (who include Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen) never seem to be reaching for some sort of Northern soul completists mindset; instead, they use the evocative textures of vintage African-American music as a jumping-off point for Harding's heartfelt, steet-smart tales of love, regret, family, and the pains and joys of everyday life. Harding is a terrific singer who can deliver full-bodied performances in his normal range (check out "Need Your Love" and "Go as You Are" if you need convincing) and also slip into a falsetto that's just the ticket for numbers like "Ghost of You" and "Dream Girl." (He even lets the two play off one another on "Till the End," in which he portrays both halves of a combative couple.) Curtis Harding can write and sing like a soul man with a mind of his own, and here he sounds even more open, expressive, and fearless than he did on his very fine debut. Face Your Fear ups the ante for Harding, bumping him from promising newcomer to major artist, and if you like good songs played and sung with true conviction, you won't want to sleep on this. ~ Mark Deming
Clash (Magazine) - "Harding has given us a captivatingly concise project brimming with soulful and pensive reflection."