Leon Bridges Sings Soul

Columbia's signee gets ready to break the Internet by bringing back turndown tunes.
By    February 25, 2015

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Will Schube is a fan of all three Back to the Future movies

The R&B/Soul genre of yesteryear was a typical ground-up structure, artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding relied on the strength of otherwordly singles to carry the momentum of full albums. Cooke had “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Wonderful World” while Redding sported the impossibly catchy “The Dock of the Bay.”



This isn’t to say that these singers didn’t make great albums (they did). They’re more suggestive of what Soul legends understood and executed so well: Individual songs are easier to identify than entire albums. This is why Leon Bridges, the young-old soul from Texas, has the ears of Columbia Records and a large swath of the Internet.



It’s unfair to undermine Bridges’ penchant for album creation (he’s yet to make one), and it’s also nuts to speculate his future place among “the legends” on the basis of a few tracks, but the dude’s batting 1.000 so far. If he were a ballplayer, Alex Rodriguez would be shining this rookie’s shoes.


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“Lisa Sawyer,” Brides’ latest single (posted above — via GVB), doesn’t do anything too fancy. In a genre predicated on old sounds–on an old world–the most effective way to define an aesthetic is through subtleties. “Sawyer” is in 6/8 and produces a slow swing. It’s got a bit of an off-killter feel as the bass drum’s pulse lies exclusively in the first six. Bridges’ voice is remarkably smooth, and it doesn’t really matter what he sings. He could be singing about the iPhone 6 and it’d still sound like we’re in 1965.¬†Bridges and his backup vixens are supported by smooth horns while organs sneak around the track’s deepest crevices. His voice is so periodic and in tune with a particular vision that nothing more than instrumental pleasantness is required for satisfying sounds.



The subtleties are enough to support Bridges. Most revival acts grow tired after the same repetitive trick is played again and again, but Bridges feels different. Maybe it’s the voice, maybe the eye on keen aesthetic flourishes. Regardless, Bridges has turned 2015 into the swinging 60s, the sexy 70s . . . no matter the silly alliteration, Bridges just makes you happy to be in a different time.

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