Leon Bridges’ debut album Coming home has been saturating this (northern) summer with smooth authentic soul, gospel harmonies and fluid blues, his tour criss-crossing the European and American continents from Glastonbury and Montreux Festivals to sold out shows at the Apollo Theatre in New York in October. It’s an ambitious act to not cover the Stax recorded sounds of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs or Sam Cooke and the Temptations but to rediscover with a modern voice and lyrics the authentic reel-to-reel recorded sounds of the 50s and 60s.
Flowers is the stand out jive number, while only a shaking tambourine and an acoustic guitar guides Bridges and his wafty vocalists to the gospel hymn River – “take me to your river / now I wanna know.” The yearning Better Man pleads, “What I can do / to get back to your heart / if I could win your heart / I’d swim the Mississippi River / If you would give me another start / Girl, accompanied by the nonchalant doo-wop doo-wop backing vocalists. Twistin’ & Groovin is the tootin’ blues instrumental, heavy with BB King influenced guitar copycatting Bridges’ vocals and a rich saxophone solo shining in between.
This is smooth music to seduce the mind and confirms the wonders of that ole thing ‘the album.’ With a concert performed by Bridges and his band almost nightly until November, we wonder how the album (released on the 19 June) would sound post tour. Would it sound tighter, not just the band playing more ‘together,’ but with meatier instrumental drills and more languishing lurches internalised through constant creative performances from touring?
The Fort Worth 26 year old Texan won’t be coming home until his final concert in Dallas, Texas in November. His black and white pictures on Instagram taken by his best friend on tour, gives fans a hint of Bridges’ neat and pleated vintage choreographed style. Coming home captures the excitement of modern soul and blues music today, with sell out concerts in every town that says it all.