Album cover artwork for Curtis Harding with vinyl popping outThis album’s title was inspired by something Curtis Harding’s mother – a travelling gospel performer who taught him how to sing and play drums in church – once said: “Give me flowers while I’m still here.” Backed by a choir and spirited brass parts, Harding coos, “If words were flowers/ I’d give them all to you,” during the opening title track.

He also worships at the altar of hip hop (Harding was part of the hip-hop group Proseed, and rapped and supplied BVs for Cee-Lo Green) and, on Hopeful, he raps atop horn-fuelled soul accompaniment.

The instrumentation throughout If Words Were Flowers is innovative, fresh and genre-fluid, but Harding’s ridiculously versatile vocals always play the starring role: fluttering flute elevates So Low’s 808s & Heartbreak-inspired vocoder-vocals and his flawless falsetto dominates Forever More’s minimal, jazzy flourishes. Penultimate track It’s A Wonder’s laidback strut evokes the glorious Don’t Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes.

Although Harding’s third solo record was initially completed pre-Covid, he revisited the material to ensure it was timely. “Nina Simone said that it’s an artist’s job to reflect the times,” he explained. As such, If Words Were Flowers – a genre-diverse sonic bouquet – delivers much-needed comfort and peace while celebrating love and the importance of human connection.

If Words Were Flowers by Curtis Harding is out now via ANTI- Records.

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