CURTIS HARDING, Face Your Fear (Anti): 4 STARS

Modern soul that doesn’t shy from dark complexities. Danger Mouse-produced opening track “Wednesday Morning Atonement” sets the tone; against a backdrop of eerie, rippling synth notes and a downward-marching bass line, Harding sounds ominous even when singing of second chances in his nimble falsetto (“I finally can stay ’cause I love you”), which may be the point. The politically inspired title track and thumping anthems “On and On” and “Till the End” hark back to late ’60s soul, while statement-making tracks “As I Am” and the “Shaft”-evoking “Go as You Are” can be heard as pledges of personal truth, artistic as well as romantic. At the Echo in Echo Park Thursday, Nov. 9. curtisharding.com

WILL HOGE, Anchors (EDLO/Thirty Tigers): 3½ STARS

Always a strong lyricist, Hoge has previously undercut his best attributes with uninspiring roots-rock conventions. Here he goes full-on troubadour, pairing hummable, smartly crafted melodies with truth-telling lyrics and simpler instrumentation, and he sounds reinvigorated. The upbeat “Little Bit of Rust” (brightened by Sheryl Crow’s harmonies) inches toward country radio accessibility, but “This Grand Charade” (“The truth is we made a mistake/ We ain’t that happy couple on the wedding cake”) and “Cold Night in Santa Fe” better represent this set of mature ruminations on wrong roads taken and best intentions gone awry. At the Mint in LA Saturday, Nov. 11. willhoge.com

FREYA RIDINGS, Live at St. Pancras Old Church  (Good Soldier): 3 STARS

The London singer-songwriter’s grandly somber cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” fits comfortably in a pristinely recorded concert set of her own melodic ballads. Her rich, dramatically breathy tones are alternately reminiscent of Anohni and Tori Amos, the simplicity of her vocal-and-piano setup (with judicious support from cello and electric guitar) magnifying the heartache she channels. It’s beautifully performed, but any cathartic release may get undercut for some by the lack of rhythmic or thematic variety. At Hotel Café in Hollywood with JP Saxe Nov. 13. freyaridings.com

COLD SPECKS, Fools Paradise  (Arts & Crafts): 2½ STARS

Canadian artist Ladan Hussein digs into myth and family history that promises meaty source material, yet she seems to be marking time on previously claimed ground; nothing here rivals the emotional dynamics of 2014’s Polaris-nominated “Neuroplasticity.” Smooth vocals and metallic synths combine to create a disengaged chill that’s appropriate during tracks like “Void,” but which ultimately fogs in “Wild Card” and “Witness” when they call for personal and musical awakening and takeoff. At the Echo in Echo Park Wednesday, Nov. 15. coldspecks.com