Curtis Harding's performance is a look at the future of classic soul

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Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Curtis Harding, The Social, Apr. 10

Alongside rising stars like Son Little and Florida breakout Benjamin Booker, Atlanta’s Curtis Harding is one of the leading lights in the current class of bright young soul saviors. Without question, their lodestar is the school of soul that’s old and true. But rather than the glorious but strict revivalism of renaissance icons like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley who brought due prestige and profile back to soul music, Harding et al are bringing a young man’s game to it, inching the form forward with taste, evolution and style.
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
Not surprisingly, a common hallmark of these new soul visionaries is an alternative background, and Harding’s no exception. His own pedigreed path has been marked by associations with CeeLo Green and the Black Lips (who'll be playing the Beacham with the Black Angels next week), and his work has been released on indie darling labels like Burger and Anti Records.
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
As some of those affiliations would suggest, Harding’s take on soul can be more than a little garage-minded. Live, however, his band’s grooves were lusciously classic, though broadened by some rock kick and psych expansion. Like a great old soul record, the crack quintet were radiant from the jump. With deep guitars, beefy rhythm section and plush keys and sax, this is a unit built for sonorousness. But making it all smolder is Harding’s rich voice, an athletic balance of young vigor and sweet wear. The sum total is a thing of velvet and muscle.
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
Curtis Harding at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Curtis Harding at the Social
In venue news, the Social has remodeled its main bar. It’s worthy of note not as an interior design measure but because of its size. The bar top area is now actually smaller. While the thought of a smaller bar should horrify anyone, this move doesn’t reduce any access to the good stuff. It just translates the square footage from tabletop into standing room, which will pay dividends at the next sold-out show.


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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com