Analogue Music | Curtis Harding

Curtis Harding

By Matt Conner

'If Words Were Flowers' is a vibrant arrangement.

The latest album from Curtis Harding, four years after the release of Face Your Fear, is just the sort of music we needed (and also that which we didn't realize we'd need) in these troubled times. It's vibrant. It's expectant. It's alive.

Harding says another album, or at least a variation of this one, was already ready when the pandemic hit. At that point, the industry slowed and the release was shelved, giving him time to respond to the emerging crises all around—a "world covered in darkness, disease and despair" if love is lost in the process.

We recently sat down with Harding to hear more about his latest musical offering, the hope it carries to the listener, and the light that everything must hold if he's going to release it.

Analogue: It’s been a little while and it makes me curious how you’re feeling with the album out?

Curtis Harding: It feels good, man. I’ve been actually sitting on this album for over a year, just because of the whole lockdown situation. We just sat on it for a while. The anticipation was a little nerve-wracking, not knowing what the expectations were. But I dug the record. I love the record, so I felt that if people received the way that I received it, then it would be all good. The reception so far has been incredible. It’s actually exceeded my expectations so far.

Analogue: From what I’ve been able to gather in reading about your process, it’s clear you wanted to present this sort of bouquet of positivity. Did you write in that direction from the outset?

Curtis: It was very natural. I started writing the record in 2019, and I’d actually turned it in at that point. Then I took it back because the world started going crazy. I realized I had time to refine it and I wasn’t really happy with the flow of the record. I kept five or six songs and then wrote some new material. Then all of that started pouring out of me, starting flowing out of me.

"My personality is such that even when things happen, you have to keep moving forward and remain optimistic. You gotta see the light somewhere."

I really didn’t have a clear direction of even what it was about. I take each song individually and then toward the end when we have a group of material, I piece things together to tell a story and that’s when it starts making sense. So it’s very organic and very natural.

Analogue: Are you a pretty optimistic person?

Curtis: Yeah, I have to be. I’m human, of course, and I have my moments, but I was raised to b that way. My personality is such that even when things happen, you have to keep moving forward and remain optimistic. You gotta see the light somewhere.

I’m a believer in humanity and a believer that music is a healing tool. It’s a universal language that brings people together, so for me to put something out in the world, it has to have that undertone of positivity. Even if it’s a sad song, it has to have that light.

Analogue: I grew up in the church and I know you did, too. How much of that is responsible for that sort of outlook?

Curtis: I’m not a religious person but I’m definitely spiritual. So I think that the positive vibes from everything I’ve learned from every religion is steeped into the foundation of what I do. That sense alone, that belief system, is powerful. It works for me. I would never push my beliefs on anybody but just the universal tone of being positive is something I think we all need, y’know?

Analogue: How did you know which songs went and which songs stayed?

Curtis: It came after listening down a few times. I look at music as a whole like a record. I’m a fan of listening down to a complete album. I want to listen and let it play and not skip songs, so that’s what I strive to do throughout my career. So after I’d listened a few times, I felt it wasn’t really flowing.

I had a deadline at that point, but once COVID hit, it changed the game for me. I had time. So that’s what I did. I took my time and refined the material.

Analogue: Which songs made it?

Curtis: “Hopeful” was one of them for sure. “Can’t Hide It” was one. “Where’s the Love” came during lockdown. “The One” is one of them that made it through. “Forever More” made it through. “I Won’t Let You Down” made it through. At first, “Flowers was an instrumental and then I added the lyrics later.

Analogue: Was there any thought given to putting music out during COVID and speak to people with what you’d already written?

Curtis: Definitely. I’m always curating and writing songs, so I wanted to put something out during that time. I just think that, just because of label politics, that it wasn’t really possible. That’s the reason I didn’t release anything in that time was just because of the politics of the industry. All in all, I think it still served its purpose—and it still is.

Analogue: Do you feel differently about some of the songs given that you had to wait longer to release them?

Curtis: No. I don’t. I’m the kind of person who’s on to the next thing once I’m done. They’re still living and alive. They’re there. But I can move on and keep writing. I’m already working on the next thing, but at the same time, I still have to live with these songs and perform them for people, so they’re there. It’s just a continuation. I have to keep moving forward for me. Music’s what I love to do.

VISIT: Curtis Harding

*Photo: Matt Correia