A Love Letter to Leon Bridges

By: Tim Rauf

It was a quiet night in the office. Everybody else had gone home. I was sitting at my desk, putting a few last touches on some work, when I noticed that whatever was playing on the communal work Spotify playlist was really good

It was so good that I stopped what I was working on mid-type. With an almost desperate movement, I opened up the Spotify tab, and saw that the song playing was called “Coming Home,” by a guy called Leon Bridges.

I was instantly confused. Part of being raised by two significantly older parents, I was reared on a steady diet of Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Bill Withers, and the Temptations. How had they neglected to show me this guy, who was instantly recognizable as being straight from the same lineage as those greats?

The answer to this question seems obvious to those who pay attention to the modern musical landscape. To my astonishment, “Coming Home” was from Bridges’ eponymous album, released in its first format… in 2016. I couldn’t believe how perfectly it captured that ‘60s sound.  The content of the album didn’t simply feel like a tribute, or an emulation of the classics; the album was one of the classics.

After doing a little bit of research by checking the about tab on Spotify, I learned that the way I identified the sound of the music was not mine alone. On the page, Bridges is  described as “a sound that evoke(s) mid-to late-60’s soul,” according to bio writer Andy Kellman.

I’ve never been a person to instantly point out all the intricacies of music, so I’m going to leave the technical lingo to my betters who actually know what they’re talking about when they write about music. Instead, the goal here is talk about the sensation you feel when you listen to this type of music.

Although it’s a given that this experience is an entirely subjective one, I can’t help but suspect others will know exactly what I’m talking about here. There’s a reason we still listen to the Temptations after a rough breakup, or that Bill Withers cheers us on and tells us to have a “Lovely Day” as we sit on the bus looking out at the city in the morning. Sam Cooke was, and still is, known as the king of soul, because he strikes at the soul in a way that not a lot of artists can.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am very thankful for what Leon Bridges is doing with his sound. I think I speak for a lot of early R&B and soul fans when I say please keep the good tunes coming. Take us back to something simpler, while keeping the powerful messages of Gaye and Withers alive and well.

(Feature Image By: Columbia Records)



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