This is how it works…
I was at a My Morning Jacket show (Post from May 18, 2015). I met some new friends. One of them suggested I listen to Leon Bridges… and now here I am, smitten.
This is what it is…
Music is communal… and live shows and bands build a community. In a record shop… with a radio station and especially live… We are together in the dark… a bar, or theatre or huge concert hall… sharing intimate moments… dancing and grooving… laughing and singing… crying and opening up. Music is this… Music is everything.
I was able to immediately track down four singles that he had put out through Columbia Records: “Coming Home”, “Better Man”, “Lisa Sawyer” and “River.”
Sam Cooke immediately came to mind… and that is only a good thing… I love Sam Cooke… those smooth, stunning and soulful vocals… You’ll also hear and long for some Otis Redding. Not because you need it, I like Leon just fine… but it makes you realize just how good that music was.
Retro is back… What’s old is new… Just check out Alabama Shakes, Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings… so good.
Reviews will also mention his label mate Raphael Saadiq. If the ’60s R&B is not your thing, then stroll on by. But if it is… Mmm… I think you will be digging on this one and Leon Bridges.
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Leon is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who, according to AllMusic: “performed in and around Fort Worth, Texas and stirred up music industry interest with analog recordings, produced by Justin Block and Austin Jenkins of White Denim, which were uploaded to his SoundCloud page.”
I dig the band White Denim… and that s a good story right there… You work hard… you make music… you get discovered. Rather old-fashioned, I’d say. Unlike today’s, Hey, let’s get on a reality show and have a career. Yuck… Mostly. There have been a few lasting artists, but that is rare.
AllMusic continues: “Bridges touches all the retro-soul bases. Each element of his ten-song, half-hour debut evokes early- to mid-’60s R&B: the song structures, the application of reverb, the dust-coated church organ, the doo wop background vocals, the horn charts that accent rather than dominate. Bridges sings of seeking salvation and taking trains, and he offers proposals as modest as “I won’t weigh you down.”… It’s all a pleasing time warp without turbulence, one with songs built more to evoke the past than to last in one’s memory.”
Mediocre review at best… and perhaps this won’t stick. With an iTunes library filled with music and shelves filled with CDs it takes a lot for me to really hit something over and over… and to have it lovingly linger. We’ll see how this one goes…
It’s mostly ballads, true… and would make a nice late night record, if you know what I mean… And it’s hard to think of anyone topping Sam or Otis or Wilson (as in Pickett)… There is a reason that their music is so timeless… why it endures.
This album might come across as derivative… and it does not stray much from the formula mentioned above… it does not really add a 2015 flair… but perhaps it doesn’t need to. The ’60s were rich with music and musical stylings… and this record fits right into that groove.
“Twistin’ & Groovin'” is my favorite track… I guess I’m a sucker for a saxophone. And since “Coming Home” was my introduction to Leon, and immediately got me thinking of Sam’s “Cupid” that one has stuck with me.
I dig this record. But let’s check back in a month and see if it’s still in rotation. With so much music being put out into the world (a very good thing) it is hard to really stand out and withstand the test of time… but so far, so good. I am groovin’… and we ALL NEED TO BE GROOVIN’!!!