Rhythm Reincarnate: Is Leon Bridges the New Sam Cooke?

By Molly Joyce

With the proliferation of nostalgia-infused subgenres within pop culture, one might think that Fort-Worth, TX native Leon Bridges might just be the resurrection of Soul Music on today’s mainstream stage.

As a dishwasher/busboy turned singer/songwriter, Bridges has most recently been  recognized on billboard.com for his 2015 Grammy nominated debut album“Coming Home”, which fuses sounds of Sam-Cooke-esque soft soul with a melodic (and in my case cathartic) Otis-Redding-lullaby rhythm. Bridges is able to transport his audience to another time, while still creating a sound that captures modern tastes.

leon-bridges-coming-home-album-cover-2015

One of my favorites, entitled “Twistin’ & Groovin, is “a story about how my grandparents met,” Bridges told the audience at his NPR Tiny Desk Concert, “my grandfather said the first thing he noticed about my grandmother was her long legs–so I wrote a little song about it.”

Bridges has made appearances all over the US and Australia, with some notable performance at the 2016 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Hangout Music Festival, and most prominently the White House, where Bridges performed “Lonely Avenue” in “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House”.

By evoking a mid-60’s soul sound, Bridges has sold nearly half-a-million of his debut album, and is currently in the production stage of his sophomore record. But while bridges might motivate some of us to flip our records back a few decades and sit on the dock of the bay, the singer has revealed  that he himself “likes to listen to trap music.”  With this in mind, will we see more of the trap influence in his next album? I don’t know about you, but while I can’t picture a collaboration with Future, I’d sure as hell love to see one.

In addition to the new and timeless sounds Bridges has brought to the stage, the soul revival train seen in the past decade has had it tracks laid by notable artists such as Alabama Shakes, and the late Amy Winehouse. So with this new wave of old sounds, maybe–just maybe–there might be hope (if I daresay) for the expanded breadth of taste within today’s pop culture.

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