While I don't feel bad for Leon Bridges
, let's just say that I'm not envious of the position he probably found himself in following the release of his debut album, Coming Home,
An absolute masterpiece in the study of revivalist sounds, Coming Home
was a contemporary rejuvenation of soul, R&B, and jazz that appealed to critics and laymen alike. Most importantly, it was about as solid a debut statement an artist could make, which means Bridges would be left little room for error with whatever he followed it up with. Then there's the fact that the track "River", for all its crooning, soulful goodness, had become a bit of an albatross, threatening to pull Bridges down into one-hit wonder territory despite all his good deeds.
So it's understandable that he's taken his time in releasing any new material. Plenty of other artists of equal and even greater statue have rushed in to capitalize on their successes only to fall flat on their face with the subsequent attempt. However, it seems that Bridges has been made to wait too long, and as he put it, he was just "too excited" to hold back anymore.
In an exciting double release, Bridges has shared two new tracks, "Bet Ain't Worth the Hand" and "Bad Bad News", each one justifying his extended sabbatical.
While Bridges allowed himself moments on Coming Home
to display his dynamic range a bit more, "Bet Ain't Worth the Hand" really feels like him cutting loose and laying all of his talents out on the table. His smooth-as-butter vocals effortlessly hit peaks that would crack most other's voices, with a more modern laid back Motown vibe to get lost in. On "Bad Bad News" Bridges dusts off some Harlem jazz lounge vibes with minimalist but striking arrangements featuring watery guitar solos, sensual saxophone riffs and a classic vocal call and response piece.
While playing right into Bridges' wheelhouse, both songs also feel like an evolution for the savant, bridging revivalist aesthetics with updated trends for a sound that again will find a home amongst aficionado's and enthusiast's catalogs alike. Not bad for a guy facing the Herculean task of not jumping the shark.