There is a certain essence about capturing an attributing sound of the past, the flair of the gentle and smooth sounds of Funk’s Golden Era, the glimmering potential of thousands of sounds coming from a single time frame. Curtis Harding in certain moments stands out for acting as a mirror that reflects the soulfulness, but is also a shining example of a modern rendition of hopefulness in his future. It is the versatility of the Michigan-born artist that gives the inspiration of Face Your Fear, a smooth glide of transitions that lead to a second full-length masterpiece.
It is the first moments of “Wednesday Morning Atonement” where Harding takes a passionate and deliberate turn to this fluttering use of string ensembles which resemble something similar to a Pixar film. Then as the thunderous guitar and percussion floods into the frame, Harding uses his vintage style to become a catalyst for his strong vocal performance that begins to echo over the instrumentation like a wave of beauty. Harding’s style is incredibly similar to something that could be heard over the radios in the 1970’s, images of southern light creep into the mind as Harding creates an emotional experience for his sound and captures the internal mix of substance. It is something that comes as almost indescribable as the amount of simplistic, but pleasant to the ears sound is precious on Face Your Fear, becoming a shifting work of art at every turn.
The gentle caress of Face Your Fear on the following self-titled cut, “Face Your Fear” is just simply gorgeous and the real grace behind it is the backing instrumentation that fills the gaps of sound with movie-esque strings. It is a simple gesture, but a substantial one that begins to continue to register and indicate Harding’s immaculate sense of identity behind his music. The percussion is a tender endeavor that takes the listener in and never becomes an overpowering tool, but instead continues to lay the backing methods that eventually cascade into “On And On”. Focusing more on becoming upbeat and using horns, “On And On” is an abrupt transition into a cheerful styling that takes a new rendition of something similar to Amy Winehouse’s discography of blaring horns and a standard jazz syncopated drum beat. It is a collection of sound from Harding that hunkers down and captures eloquently the feeling of soul that transitions into the overarching levels of Face Your Fear.
Even when progressing farther into “Welcome To My World”, Harding keeps the same consistency of smooth, soul-influenced vocals that work almost perfectly into the instrumental that takes more of a spaced-out approach of synthesizers that never take complete control, but instead provide backing aspects. Harding explains, “Welcome to my world baby, sun shines in your eye”, as the instrumental begins to pick up momentum and shift with faster strikes on the cymbals that takes a nosedive back to the first found tempo. Harding has an overarching control of the track that then transpires into Face Your Fear in the final moment of “As I Am”. The subtle and crawling ending of Face Your Fear that takes everything Harding showcased previously is shown once again as one project. It is a beautiful finale that strikes a chord with the soft-spoken Harding, commanding the production to create a gentle outro that fades into a quiet silence.
Harding takes Face Your Fear into a new level of tribute through sound without ever creating a feeling of unoriginality. He takes the feeling of the 1970’s and transforms it into a modern twist of immaculate beauty from the production, the vocals, and the instrumentation that is almost perfect. The last seconds are a graceful send-off into the future of Harding which sounds brighter than ever.