CURTIS HARDING: Soul Power: CD

The album is called Soul Power, he’s on the cover with a neck tattoo, smoking, and yet this sounds like music you could buy at Starbucks. Bland, professional R&B scuzzed up and made casual just enough to come off quote unquote real. I can appreciate that he can sing, that there’s a suggestion of Bill Withers and Cody Chesnutt in the music, and that when he goes off-script (the garage pop of “Surf” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” the dirty blues of “Drive My Car,” the synth bubbles in “The Drive”) he hints at the wider, out-there Shuggie Otis or Prince possibilities he may have in store. But right now he’s making some easy throwback stuff in the age of Devonte Hynes, FrankOcean, FKA twigs. He could do something remarkable. He just needs to catch up.

 –Matt Werts (Burger, burgerrecords.org)