By Jason Herring, July 23 2015 —
Leon Bridges’ debut album Coming Home was released this year, but it sounds like it came straight from the ’60s. The 25-year-old Texan presents a catchy collection of soulful rhythm and blues tunes. Although he does well paying homage to another era, Coming Home is a little too imitative of classic R&B singers.
The album starts off with Bridges’ first single and the record’s title track, “Coming Home.” The song embodies everything that’s great about soul music, with a deep melodic rhythm and smooth vocals. It’s an exemplary showcase of Bridges’ sleek voice, which is the centrepiece of the album, and features infectious doo-wop backing vocals and a bluesy guitar line.
Bridges has training as a gospel singer, which is evident on tracks like “Lisa Sawyer,” a ballad that details his mother’s baptism in a river and “Better Man,” a track where Bridges laments over his lost love.
Coming Home is a short album, with 10 songs clocking in at just over 35 minutes. But this isn’t a bad thing, because by the half-hour mark you’ve heard everything Bridges has to offer. The album sounds very similar to a number of great soul artists, especially genre pioneer Sam Cooke. Unfortunately, Bridges wears this influences on his sleeve. Though he’s an immensely talented musician, most of his songs fail to establish their own identity.
There are signs of brilliance scattered throughout Coming Home, but as a whole the album feels derivative of the great artists who came before it. Bridges is a skilled vocalist who is still developing his sound. It’ll be interesting to see him develop as a songwriter as he continues to release new music.