The second album from soul singer Leon Bridges is out and his cross-over into 90’s R&B might surprise you.
In his triumphant return, Leon Bridges has managed to completely transform his once 1950’s Sam Cooke sound into an amalgamation of 1970’s Chaka Khan funk and 1990’s D’Angelo R&B.
I first heard Bridges’ music back in 2015, after the release of his debut album Coming Home. I was immediately struck by his sound. He, along with Nick Waterhouse and a number of other new artists, brought to the music scene a repurposed version of 50’s soul music, recalling the work of artists like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett.
However, the newest album Good Thing, differs in a few crucial ways. For one, thisalbum is far more marketable, and Bridges’ is well aware of this. While the singer gained considerable notoriety from his first album, its soul sound restricted its availability to the wider public.
This time around, a good mix of neo-soul, funk, and R&B has set this record apart from everything that has come out this year so far. In the second track “Bad Bad News” Bridges states, “I’m just tryna move up front, lil more of this, lil less of that” and indeed he solidifies his intentions and it carries through the entire album.
Bridges has put aside his cardigan sweaters and wingtip shoes to don a new look. Good Thing demonstrates Leon’s growth as an artist and his capabilities as a versatile musician.
His true artistry is demonstrated in tracks like “Bad Bad News” which has a jazz-funk sound and “Forgive You” with its pop feel. “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand” is a song that samples the great Curtis Mayfield and recalls a sound reminiscent of a young Sam Cooke, reminding the listener of Leon’s roots as a soul singer. Yet, conversely “Lions” and “Shy” clearly take a lesson from D’Angelo’s R&B mastery in Brown Sugar (1995) and Voodoo (2000.)
The composition of this album is detailed with its utilization of jazz musicians and the lyrical stylings of William Shelby from the funk/soul band Dynasty. Bridges maintains a “retro” form, yet his target era has shifted forward a few decades, signaling in a new audience.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys soul and early 90’s R&B. While Good Thing takes an extreme turn from most traditional Leon Bridges tracks, I promise you will not be disappointed.
The Good Thing tour starts July 3rd in Switzerland, and for those you in the Highway 401 corridor, you can catch Bridges at the Fox Theatre in Detroit later this fall on September 25 or in Toronto at Echo Beach on September 27.