Leon Bridges Brings Southern Spirit into the 21st Century


Perseverance is cooked in the Southern spirit. It’s there in the essence and determination of their singing, in the patiently rolling grooves, in how their realistic stories unfold. It’s there in the way the music clings to its deeper African ancestral blues and gospel roots. And the sound is there in the sense that it persists and adapts over the decades, finding new rhythms but still witnessing from the heart.

Texas songwriter’s third album “Gold-Diggers Sound” Leon Bridgespresents the personalized survival strategy for the Southern spirit. Bridges sings her classic subjects in songs that take her time and enjoy natural, unpolished singing. He promises sultry romance in “Magnolias”, cheats a bit in “Don’t Worry About Me” (with duet vocals by Atia “Ink” Boggs) and affirms his belief in “Born Again.” The music around it uses synthetic textures, programmed beats and surreal layers to bring a decades-old tradition into the 21st century.

It draws grace from Bridges’ “Sweet” release in June 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd. The narrator is a dead man whose mother, sisters and brothers cry for him. “I thought we were going through dark days,” Bridges says, with a thumping trap beat and Terrace Martin’s measured electro-piano chords; “Someone has to give you a blame/Because you stole my chance to be,” she adds.

“I can’t and won’t be quiet anymore,” Bridges said. an idiom then. “As Abel’s blood cries to God, George Floyd cries to me.”

Bridges, 32, sought to advance in the history of soul-music. first album, “Come home” In 2015, she introduced a singer who goes back to an era long before she was born. His voice evoked the beauty of Sam Cooke and the courage of Otis Redding, and his music was the unabashedly uplifting spirit of the 1960s. Bridges moved the timeline forward as follows: “something good” In 2018, he calls the “silent storm” of the 1980s R&B and 1990s neo-soul. Both albums reached the Billboard Top 10, but they left the impression that Bridges was still doing genre work on established styles.

“Gold-Diggers Sound”, named after the Los Angeles studio where the album was made, is more stable and determined. All their songs are mid-tempo or slower, often sluggish. Slowly swirling, echo-charged electric guitar vamps from Nate Mercereau turn many of the songs into meditation, and all tracks, no matter how far below the surface, delay Bridges’ sound. While full of editorial collaborations, including pop song doctors like Dan Wilson and Justin Tranter, the songs present Bridges as a lone figure in a desolate space, begging and giving hope.

Bridges and its producers Ricky Reed and Mercereau clearly heard the slow beats of D’Angelo, Prince, R. Kelly, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. But Bridges’ songs and voice have a different, melancholic side: less confidence, more pain.

Still a sweet talker, she offers her lovers not only pleasure, but also deeper empathy. In “Motorcycle,” He insists on a calmly glowing, African-inspired groove, “I don’t mean no pressure/I just want to make you feel right.” A guitar serenely vamps in “Details” as one partner worries about finding another; reminds him how closely he followed her “how she looked at the car while I was driving a little too fast / how she paused while talking while trying not to laugh”.

Bridges dares to admit how needy he was throughout the album. “Why Don’t You Touch Me” it has the kind of clunky, undulating backdrop that any other singer might use to put on a bland stage. But Bridges’ song sees the passion emanating from her relationship, wonders what she might have done wrong, and finally begs: “Girl, make me feel wanted/Don’t leave me here unsatisfied.” And Bridges ends the album not with romantic bliss, but with “Blue Mesas,” which confesses to a persistent depression where success hasn’t changed. A contemporary choice – unexpectedly polo g and rod wave. For Bridges, the history of the soul is still unfolding.

Leon Bridges
“Voice of Gold Hunters”
(Colombia)



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