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Leon Bridges: Coming Home

From Consequence Of Sound:
Leon Bridges makes no bones about his musical upbringing; he’s not claiming to be some mystic transplant from another age. He grew up on Usher and Ginuwine, but hearing Sam Cooke unlocked the musical potential bubbling under the surface. Coming Home uses the tools and formulas of Cooke and Marvin Gaye without embellishment. It’s also telling that the decision was instinctual. The happiness he got from hearing and then recreating that music is palpable, infused into the bones of these songs. Nothing about Coming Home feels calculated. The key track is “Lisa Sawyer”, a cotton candy puff of storytelling in which Bridges tells his mother’s life story over an easy-strolling gospel pop track. It’s hard to say whether the aww-inducing description (“the complexion of a sweet praline, hair long as the sea, heart warm like Louisiana sun, voice like a symphony”) or musical flourishes (tenor sax solo and wordless girl-group backing harmonies) are sweeter. Bridges’ love for his mother and for the music drips golden like honey: something natural that exists for its own sake. The brassy “Better Man” shows off Bridges’ more upbeat side — one listen, and you’ll be able to envision him and a few backup singers stepping one hip out toward the audience and snapping in unison. The production, aided by vintage gear and the helping hands of White Denim’s Austin Jenkins and Josh Block, hums throughout Coming Home, picking the right spot for every lazy drum fill or punch of horns. Bridges similarly varies his delivery, offering smoky ribbons on the excellent “Smooth Sailin’” and full-throated, elongated vowels on closer “River”. Though the album lodges itself in a single era, it makes the most of the various strains of R&B and soul that the time had to offer. Often, blatantly retro acts can feel like Halloween costumes on a trick-or-treater: an approximation of something familiar worn temporarily to get something in return. The best retro acts, though, feel more like the work of professional costumers, the kind that get Oscars for making you believe they stepped right out of another era. On Coming Home, Bridges solidly aligns with the latter, his soulful R&B studied and nostalgic, but also immediate and emotionally true.”
Coming Home is out now on Columbia; check out the title track below.

About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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