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Album Reviews

Leon Bridges - Good Thing

Leon Bridges – Good Thing

They say that I was born to lose, but I made a good good thing, out of bad bad news” Leon Bridges passionately sings on his new record, Good Thing’s lead single ‘Bad Bad News’. Leon Bridges’ story is nothing but magnificently uplifting and inspirational. In just two years, he went from working as a busboy in a Fort Worth restaurant to being nominated for Grammys, performing at the White House and appearing on Saturday Night Live. It’s a story that is particularly well-known, which makes following up his 2015 record Coming Home even more difficult.

Coming Home was a marvellous slice of laid-back, glamorous soul music that harked back to the 60s golden generation of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and especially Sam Cooke who Bridges adores. As good as it was, however, you always felt as if there was something more than simply a throwback artist in Bridges and he’s proved this with his follow-up record, Good Thing. Of the record, he stated, “I loved my experience with Coming Home. Good Thing however allows me to showcase more of my influences and artistry. I'm excited for the world to hear it and perform this diverse group of songs live.” Within the opening notes of Good Thing, it’s clear that he’s mostly focussed himself onto 70s and 80s r’n’b, with splashes of funk, jazz and soul here and there.

One of the key aspects to Bridges is his love of music. He’s devoured and studied the worlds of soul, jazz and funk and Good Thing reeks of an adoration and a love for music. Opening number, ‘Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand’, sees Bridges exploring the 70s disco and soul universe as he mixes his beautiful falsetto tones with the breathtaking strings and glockenspiel that dressed Isaac Hayes’ incredible oeuvre. This is followed up with its double A-side counterpart, ‘Bad Bad News’, a prancing and sashaying cut that’s a parading hit about blocking out negativity in life. “I hit ‘em with style and grace/And watch their ankles break” Bridges croons delectably, in an immense statement about his new direction.

Importantly, there’s a modernity here that was largely missing on Coming Home. The 80s synth-influenced ‘Forgive You’ couples a neat disco groove with an almost hip-hop-influenced vocal from Bridges in a song that closely reminisces an Anderson .Paak single. Likewise, ‘If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)’ sounds like a fascinating pop disco track, that closely resembles an album cut from Janelle Monae’s recent Dirty Computer. It’s clear to see that Bridges is loving this new direction.

The stripped back ‘Georgia to Texas’ provides a beautiful close to the album, one which is fairly similar to Coming Home’s final track ‘River’. It plays out as an emotional tribute to his mother and his upbringing, with stripped-down gospel strengths that helped him receive those Sam Cooke comparisons in the first place. With just Bridges, accompanied by drums, saxophone, piano, and stand-up bass, it takes him back to his roots and, in an album where he seems to be removing himself from his 60s style beginnings, it’s an incredibly moving and refreshing piece for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes I wonder what we’re holding on for/Then you climb on top of me and I remember” Bridges sings on the sexy, lovelorn ‘Mrs.’, which is one of the best songs on the record. Good Thing will certainly not be for everyone, but it’s important that Bridges has made the album that he wanted to make and, of course, Bridges has matured, and that is absolutely a good thing for his music.

Liam McMillen

Website: leonbridges.com
Facebook: facebook.com/LeonBridgesOfficial
Twitter: twitter.com/leonbridges




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