Leon is a dreamboat. An undisputed, talented dreamboat. And “Coming Home” is a debut album that he will be able to ride the success of for a hot, steamy minute. The 10 tracks of this LP are first cousins of the soul & R&B of the 50’s and 60’s. They call out reminders of the soulful Mississippi Delta and the clubs of New Orleans, with swing and with passion.
Leon Bridges has created an aesthetic of class, modesty, and tact in his appearance and his sound, reminding me of the deliberate self-presentation of folk artist Pokey LaFarge. Leon’s music rarely breaks character into the 21st century, with vocal production that feels beautifully static and dusty. His lyrics feel vintage too, hearkening back to times of courting and pleated skirts, times more conservative, but arguably more passionate, than ours.
The vibe of this album has been carefully and soulfully constructed by Leon, but without the group of talented artists behind him, it wouldn’t be the same. Gospel singers compliment the vocals of almost every track. The horns of “Lisa Sawyer” are sexy and rich, and on “Twistin’ & Groovin,” they wail with a controlled chaos that reminds me of the call and return of Louis Prima and his horn players. Throughout, the percussion is tight, in step, and constantly killin’ it.
With tinges of the modern, but an overwhelming tribute to the legacy of American R&B and soul greats, Leon Bridge’s “Coming Home” is going to be a contender for the best album of the year for me. Standing on the shoulders of giants, Leon has created a wormhole in time, through which he reaches to feel the smoke and soul of the greats who came before.
Recommended If You Like: Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Louis Prima, Percy Sledge, B.B. King, Al Green