Even though it’s been five years since Charles Bradley left us, the sensation’s parting message still stands strong: that it’s never too late to break out and follow your dreams. Bradley’s experience is plenty inspiring on its own, but imagine having a bona fide genre legend tell you they remind you of themselves in their midcentury heyday.
That’s exactly what happened when church-taught, wedding-refined singer Bobby Harden was recruited into The Blues Brothers Band a little over a decade back. Harden’s passionate pipes quickly earned endorsements from Blues Brothers co-founders Steve Cropper, Lou Marini, Matt Murphy, and most notably – touring frontman and Stax superstar Eddie Floyd. These auspicious affirmations eventually enticed Harden to form his own outfit – Soul Purpose – a formative but relatively short-lived endeavor that passed on right around the same time that Charles Bradley did.
That’s not to say Harden’s spark died alongside Bradley; instead, with the help of veteran trumpeter/producer Billy Aukstik, Bradley’s backing group reformed behind Bobby Harden as The Soulful Saints. Between the band’s canonized handle and the passing of torches from Floyd and Bradley, the spiritual weight within Bobby Harden’s most recent chapter can’t be overstated. But rather than revert back to his developmental gospel days, Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints are revitalizing the best of retro-soul.
This Friday Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints release their debut full-length Bridge of Love, ten tracks that pave a soul expressway between urbane ballads, elegant ’70s-style pop, rudimentary R&B, and more. These originals would’ve been incredible had they been performed by Harden alone, but the Soulful Saints really bless this collection with seductive strings, heavy horns, buoyant backup vocals, and a bit of Latin-tinged rhythms to top it all off. Hear for yourself on Bridge of Love‘s latest lead single “One Tribe”, which channels the progressive psych-soul arrangements of early-mid-’70s Curtis Mayfield and The Temptations – almost like an equal-and-opposite companion piece to both “Freddie’s Dead” and “Ball of Confusion” – while retaining Harden’s idiosyncratic howl. From its initial snare taps straight to its final exclamation mark of a horn hit, we’re positive you’ll find more than “One Tribe” who’ll love this record.