Album Review: Leon Bridges – “Coming Home”
June 15, 2015admin
The dance between music and emotion is a close one. One that sucks both sides in on a floor of rhythms and melodies, a journey that defies every era in history, connecting the years in sonic progression. Some of those sounds may pass you without a second glance, but sometimes it takes one note to throw you into another dimension, like musical time travel, and make you say: oh.
That’s how we felt when we first discovered Leon Bridges. Sandwiched among a stellar lineup of acts at this year’s SXSW, one dude and a guitar– “just like the good old days”. What we didn’t know then was that in just a few short months he would not only be the 2015 Grulke Prize winner for Developing US Act, but would also have several NPR spotlights, top-billed spots on big Summer festivals like Outside Lands, and valuable real estate in much of the nation’s hearts.
After a teasingly slow Spring of individual single releases, the Texas-born musician extraordinaire has finally unleashed his debut album on us and we can barely catch our breath. In a world of knobs and autotune, it truly is a heave of fresh air when music returns to its simple, more soulful roots. That’s Bridges’ MO and we’re not complaining. Starting off with the titular track, “Coming Home”, your ears immediately feel at home as they reminisce on those afternoons only his predecessors like Sam Cooke can lend a soundtrack to.
He’s a master of the serenade, singing with the experience of a well-seasoned lover and using the excitement of an eager young man to uplift the heart all at once. A low bass-line of female vocals here, a toot of a trumpet there, slight tingling of organ keys, all come together for a Mo-Town cocktail that continues through “Better Man”, and is gently wooed in “Brown Skin Girl”. Then there are tracks like “Smooth Sailing” that slink onto the stereo with an electric versatility that reminds you of his roots in Texas Blues. He may be young, but boy does the guy know his way around a guitar and microphone.
“Shine” and “Flowers” are equally as comforting in their foundations but are perhaps two of the most opposing tracks on the album. The first is a slow testament to the strength of hope in love, the latter an auditory representation of budding romantic excitement. At only 25 years old, musical feats like these make you wonder how much evolution he still has in front of him, and what paths he’ll choose to take along the way. As his first full-length oeuvre comes to a climactic end in “River”, Leon Bridges has successfully taken you to church, wherever that may be, and cleansed your soul. The only words left to say are: amen.
Take a listen at the full stream on NPR below: