“Coming Home” embodies the essence of Bridges’ style with ’60s era pop soul simplicity. The chorus rebels against the tendency of most of today’s popular music by rejecting the urge to be catchy. Instead, it succinctly captures Bridges’ emotional state. “The world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, girl / You’re the only one that I want, want to be around,” he croons.
“Lisa Sawyer” is one of his most critically lauded releases, an intimate and sentimental tribute to his mother in which the breadth of his vocal ability and songwriting talent are at their best. His voice is the essence of charismatic soul, magnetically drawing the attention of the listener to every lyric, which is especially important in this poignantly delivered insight into the woman who raised him.
“River” is Bridges’ poignant reflection on the sense of intimate Christian spirituality poured into him by his mom, told through a profound narrative of baptism. The gospel roots of his music are most apparent here both sonically and in the lyric, “In my darkness I remember mama’s words reoccurred to me / Surrender to the good Lord, it will wipe your slate clean / Take me to your River, I want to go.” The imagery of spiritual cleansing and renewal and the yearning for a spiritual connection is palpable throughout . As on “Lisa Sawyer,” the authenticity of his vintage sound is greatest when his writing connects back to his mother. With that authenticity the song sounds more transformative than others, less like he is trying to emulate sounds from the ’50s and ’60s, rather he’s completely re-imagining it, especially through the level of sophistication in the lyrics. “Rivers” is where the all the hype about Leon Bridges is best understood.
“Better Man” is a vintage, “I want you back” type soul song. The difference between Bridges’ take on this topic and most of his contemporaries is that he has a remarkable ability to make his feelings sound believable. In “Better Man” he sings, “What can I do, what I can I do, to get back to your heart / I’d swim the Mississippi River if you would give me another start, girl.” As much as R&B/soul music relies on hyperbole to talk about love, Bridges pulls it off with sincerity.
With sound permeating in soul and intensely personal and thoughtful songwriting, Leon Bridges reaches to music’s past to give people in the present what they’ve been missing. Watch Bridges’ captivating black-and-white visuals for his singles “Coming Home” and “Better Man” right here. A refreshing antidote for the hypersexualized images of most soul crooners, even in video form, Bridges keeps the imagery intentionally simple and music focused in the video, because for him, performance is not about flash or special effects, it’s all about soul. Stay tuned for more from this exceptional talent when his debut album is released on June 23rd. If you can’t wait to own Coming Home for yourself, pre-order the album on iTunes and receive the aforementioned four songs for immediate download.