Young Texan soul stirrer, Leon Bridges, has produced a debut album that transports you to a time that exists in black and white, where needles settle into grooves, love blossoms under starry skies and there is nothing else more important or captivating as the sparkle in your lover’s eyes.
With his vintage clothing, retro recording style and a voice coated with a liberal dose of Sam Cooke honey sweetness, this is nostalgia at its most touching.
The 10 taut, ear-pricking songs on this album are lessons in genuine homage, as they combine a marvellous mix of melodrama and stormy romance with an assurance and legitimacy of delivery that surprises given the age of the man and the era in which he lives.
Generally falling into the soul-baring ballad area, Bridges has an exceptional ability to deliver just enough to make you feel the sadness or the joy and then pull you back from the flame - more Gaye than Redding.
When the band rocks, they simply shift into second gear, fast enough to raise the pulse a beat or two but not enough to raise a sweat, so that Twistin And Groovin’ and Smooth Sailin’ tantalise and tease rather than insist.
As dance numbers, they politely ask you to join them on the floor with a warm smile that you simply can’t resist.
This is great stuff. Bridges can deliver with equal parts vulnerability and class and he’s got a great band to help him do it - the arrangements are precise and the support playing crisp, sharp and with enough head turning moments to keep things constantly interesting.
Dim the lights, lower the turntable arm and soak it up.
One sweet smooth ride.
Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.