The Evolution of Leon Bridges

When it was introduced in 2015, Leon Bridges’ debut album Coming House was hailed by commentators as a breath of refreshing air: a possibly abnormal compliment for songs and a musician so rooted in the previous.

Although the relaxation of the tunes market navigated the increase of streaming providers and a new technology of superstars (Kendrick! Bieber! Miley!), Bridges was accomplishing his utmost to dress, act and seem like it was the ’60s all about again. The high-waisted trousers, wingtip sneakers and meticulously coiffed hair. The straight-to-analogue-tape, one-choose recording periods. The healthful topic materials of tracks these as Lisa Sawyer (a song about his mom) and River, a contemplative meditation on religion. Unsurprisingly, comparisons involving the Texan singer-songwriter and artists these types of as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and other soul and R’n’B greats immediately followed.

Seven many years on and Leon Bridges is a various artist to the just one he was when he initial burst on to the scene. His dress perception feels far more now and a tiny fewer choirboy-upcoming-doorway. His fan base has grown substantially and features former US president Barack Obama. And possibly most crucial of all, he also has a diverse seem – many thanks in no modest section to collaborations with a assorted edit of artists like John Mayer, Australia’s Avalanches and psych-rock trio and fellow Texans Khruangbin. Just really do not question him to attempt to determine his new seem.

“I really don’t know how to make clear it,” he states. “The sound has advanced but I nevertheless test to locate a seem that is soulful. There are some psychedelic elements in there. There is some blues. I adore strange sounds. It can be type of an amalgamation of issues but the foundation is unquestionably soul.”

As far as a descriptor for Bridges’ 3rd album Gold-Diggers Seem (2021) – the album is named right after the mixed bar-hotel-recording-studio in Los Angeles where it was recorded – “definitely soul” absolutely will work. Having off the place Bridges’ sophomore launch Great Thing (2018) left off, Gold-Diggers Sound carries on to explore the area exactly where the soul of then – consider the rosters of Motown, Stax and other genre-defining soul labels – fulfills the soul of now. In this instance, the crossover translates to the EDM-affected groove of Steam and the pensiveness of Sweeter, a reaction to the death of George Floyd, whose arrest and murder at the hands of law enforcement gave the #BlackLivesMatter motion world momentum.

“With Gold-Diggers Audio, I needed to display that soul tunes is not uniquely tethered to aged instruments and nostalgia,” suggests Bridges. “I required to provide my have version of R’n’B with integrity and vibe and soul.”

Like numerous accomplishing artists, the last two decades have been a obstacle for Bridges, not least for a self-confessed introvert who – with no the heat glow of the stage to conduct on – discovered himself crawling a minimal farther back again into his shell. Fortunately, he’s back on the road as portion of the Boundless tour, a road excursion having in towns that have been missed through the first Gold-Diggers Sound tour as properly as some worldwide locations – together with, from late September, Australia. Boundless will be Bridges’ fifth stop by to Australia, and he’s searching forward to reacquainting himself with regional audiences, taking part in new tracks off the album (furthermore a few classics) and continuing to replicate on what it means to be a soul singer circa 2022.

“It’s additional than chasing an aesthetic,” claims Bridges. “It’s an honour to have the torch of the pioneers and preserve it going and explain to my individual tales. It is essential to maintain my historical past in that way, and it’s brilliant to be on that journey of creating excellent art. You want to continue to keep the songs heading.”