Leon Bridges "Coming Home"

Your introduction to Leon Bridges’ debut release is as immediate and real as any hello can be. The opening track “Coming Home” was recorded live to tape in one take. No over-dubs or frills, no intricate arrangements, just the man and his musical vision. The 25 year old finds inspiration in the burgeoning music scene of the early 1960s, a time when do-wop, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and gospel coalesced into the kind of soul music made by Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin. 

Bridges taught himself about vintage music through on-line listening. He’s a quick learner as he recreates the raw vitality of those early soul records. His songs capture the sense of a large studio as they echo of the walls. His silky vocals glide along-side the rolling rhythms laid down by his backing band. Guitars, drums, sax and horns play a subtle supporting role as Bridges plays call and response with his backing girl singers. Most of the songs are breezy ballads or lilting up-tempo melodies that mingle soul and pop. “Smooth Sailin’” features puffing bass sax and female singers repeating the chorus. “Brown Skin Girl” adds do-wop to the mix.

“Shine” with its gospel roots, is reminiscent of Sam Cooke’s early band The Soul Stirrers. Dreamy horns, organ, and the backing hymn-like chorus create a sense of church as Bridges asks for absolution for his transgressions. “Lisa Sawyer” is an biographical ballad about his grandmother. 

Coming Home sails by in just over thirty minutes but it is an auspicious beginning for the 25-year old. He’s got the look and the sound of a past era, but the story is very much about his future as a maturing artist with plenty of potential.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)