(Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment)
Leon Bridges is a 26 year-old gospel and soul singer from Fort Worth, Texas who has gone from unknown artist to someone filling venues all around the world in no time at all. He has released his debut album ‘Coming Home’ and it is an interesting record. It is clear that he really wants to convey his passion for that 1950s-1960s classic Motown soul sound that people such as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and others helped introduce to the world.
Everything from the songwriting to the use of vintage equipment for the recording and even Leon’s clothing attire point to a very precise, planned and thought out marketing plan. I understand that they want the album to sell otherwise everyone’s efforts would be futile but it this approach means that this album is a listenable recording that doesn’t seem memorable.
Opener ‘Coming Home’ is something of a close cousin to ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Better Man’ does feel like he is trying to find his own sound as it were though and it is this song which gives me hope that Leon can create his own unique style. An individual streak doesn’t appear on these recordings.
‘Brown Skinned Girl’ is Leon’s social conscience piece and ‘Smooth Sailin’ has a funky Wurlitzer piano and backing vocals that do complement Leon’s voice. Reminds me Plan B’s ‘Defamation of Strickland Banks’ album which I was really impressed by when it was released.
‘Lisa Sawyer’ is about his mother’s baptism in a river and the lyrics are quite moving. You can really tell that he feels very emotional about what he is singing. I understand why the music listening public really connected with this track.
‘Flowers’ has a really cool musical backing with Jeff Dazey on saxophone, Andrew Skates on piano, Kenny Wayne Hollingsworth and Austin Jenkins on electric guitar, Cliff Wright on bass and Josh Block and you do find yourself getting in the groove. However, for me the verdict is still out on ‘Pull Away’
‘Twistin’ & Groovin’ is laidback with a classy electric guitar solo with its homage to the legendary Sam Cooke era at the forefront. Of all of the tracks on ‘Coming Home’ this one is definitely a driving song.
Closer ‘River’ is a stripped back affair with just acoustic guitar and light percussion. The vocals are three-dimensional with a total of six backing singers but it is lacks energy and impact leaving little to be enthused about.
In conclusion, he is fortunate to be backed by professional musicians that help bring his gospel soul sound to listenability but it doesn’t sound original more like ‘Sam Cooke revisited’. Pleasant enough but undistinguished.
Leon Bridges’s debut album ‘Coming Home’ is out now on Columbia Records/Sony Entertainment. In addition, Leon Bridges will be touring the UK and Ireland in the Autumn at the following venues:
Wednesday 23rd September- Albert Hall, Manchester, United Kingdom http://www.gigsandtours.com/event/leon-bridges/albert-hall/885880
Thursday 24th September- 02 ABC Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom http://www.o2abcglasgow.co.uk/event/78115/leon-bridges-tickets
Friday 25th September- Whelans, Dublin, Ireland http://www.ticketmaster.ie/venueartist/198293/2075742
Saturday 26th September- Anson Rooms, Bristol, United Kingdom http://www.gigsandtours.com/event/leon-bridges/anson-rooms/885883
Monday 28th September- O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London, United Kingdom http://www.gigsandtours.com/event/leon-bridges/o2-shepherds-bush-empire/873280
Tuesday 29th September- O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London, United Kingdom http://www.o2shepherdsbushempire.co.uk/event/76631/leon-bridges-tickets
For more information visit: http://www.leonbridges.com/