With his 2015 debut ‘Coming Home’, Leon Bridges earned himself a Grammy nomination, legions of fans across the world, and rumours that he was a long-lost descendent of the late, great Sam Cooke. None of this comes as a surprise, as the Texas-native’s silky-smooth, 60’s-inspired soul was a nostalgic introduction to his captivating voice and prolific song-writing. His sophomore effort ‘Good Things’, takes a stride into the present. Remaining rooted in traditional soul, it also channels influence from his pop-star peers; hearing Bridges continuing to visit the altar of Aretha, Otis and Sam; but bringing Bruno Mars and Pharrell along to church with him.
The danceable, four-to-the-floor rhythm of ‘Bad Bad News’ is a suitable introduction to the new up-tempo Leon Bridges; lacing a funk foundation with jazz guitar licks, energetic horns and infectious call and response vocals. Picking up the pace further on ‘If It Feels Good (Then It Must Do)’ and ‘You Don’t Know’, these back to back disco-tinged numbers showcase Bridges’ foray into more radio-friendly territory. Despite this, he manages not to drop an ounce of his Southern charisma, staying suitably “Hotter than Texas”, as he boasts on the former of the two tracks, both of which unearth Leon’s long-term R&B affection.
The speedier sections of ‘Good Thing’ add a welcome kick of energy, but it’s still the slower, signature soul where the Fort Worth artist shines. The mid-tempo seductive tones of ‘Shy’ and the Al Green esc ‘Mrs’ are both standout doses of R&B-spiked soul. Recent single ‘Beyond’ takes the strum along blueprint found on ‘Coming Home’, with the addition of a gigantic sing along chorus where Bridges tentatively tries to decipher if he’s finally found “the one”.
Closing track ‘Georgia to Texas’ is a culmination of everything the young artist does well. Drawing from the 60’s stylings of his debut and the smash-hit nature of the material making-up ‘Good Things’, it’s stripped-back arrangement manages to sound sprawling, with a solitary bass line tempting in rich piano tones and loose jazz-styled drums. A fitting end for the record, by this point we feel we’re really getting to know the young Texan. The lyrics cement the story-telling ability demonstrated on Bridges’ breakthrough track ‘Lisa Sawyer’, painting a vivid picture of his childhood.
‘Good Thing’ is out now via Columbia Records. The albums full track listing is as follows…
1.Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand
2.Bad Bad News
7.If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)
8.You Don’t Know
10.Georgia to Texas