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Curtis Harding's neo-soul debut is multi-faceted — complex yet easygoing. It sounds as if Harding's been a successful solo artist for decades, not a man whose recent gig was as backup for CeeLo Green and, more recently, in Black Lips side group Night Sun.

Harding's vocals are rich and sincere and are what drive the fresh, upbeat sound of Soul Power. The horn section is a well-oiled soul machine, allowing Harding to ride high on a ’70s soul vibe on one track and then mix it up with older doo-wop or R&B styling on others. The influence of Amy Winehouse is alive here.

"Next Time" takes on a ’50s feel with just a few guitar changes and light on distortion. "Heaven's on the Other Side" is fun and bright with a bit of a disco feel. Harding can play hardball too, as on "Drive My Car," but without taking it all too seriously. A badass, undulating guitar hook rules "Cruel World" and ends the album.

The first few listens of Soul Power might not bring the revelation that it has the mileage. But this sometimes gritty, often heartfelt collection shows Harding's in for the long haul.

  • Album: Soul Power EP
  • Artist: Curtis Harding
  • Label: Burger Records
  • Songs: (1) Next Time (2) Castaway (3) Keep On Shining (4) Freedom (5) Surf (6) I Don't Wanna Go Home (7) Beautiful People (8) The Drive (9) Heaven's on the Other Side (10) Drive My Car (11) I Need a Friend (12) Cruel World
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