Leoon Bridges - Good Time
There is always this pull for a musician to recreate whatever made them popular in the first place. You don't want them to change because you feel in love with their sound when you first heard it. That is what we are running into quite a bit with this new album from Leon Bridges, a man ready to change but an audience that maybe isn't quite ready to move on. The Texas soul singer has warmed heart and expanded doo-wop boundaries making the genre suddenly feel new and vibrant again. His last album Coming Home hit that perfect balance of being reverential of the past but still trying to make music for the future. This follow up Good Thing however doesn't quite hit the same notes. On this album Bridges pushes for jazzier, more jam band songs that don't cut like his previous tracks. This record far more than the last feels like a stretch out, reaching for a new kind of sound that doesn't keep Bridges stuck in a doo wop loop. "Beyond" is a great example of this because in the moments where he slips into his old style, like in the verses, it really soars, but when He pulls in this delivery that is almost to high for him to sing, it ends up kind of falling flat. "Forgive You" has a similar outcome, and it feels like Bridges is just barely dipping his toe into something new with a healthy amount of fear around the whole endeavor. It's not like He doesn't buy in to this new sound, He just seems to keep one foot on each side of the fence.
The thing that makes this album still work though is Leon's stellar fucking voice. Songs like "You Don't Know" which pull Leon into the eighties feel pretty damn clunky, but it is always his vocal that keeps you hanging in there. You'll notice throughout the record that it feels like "real love" that Bridges is singing about. On "Mrs." he presents the love of a real man for his "mrs." devoid of the platitudes and sideways comments that we tend to get in music from 2018. The album closes on "Georgia to Texas" the story of Leon's family moving from Atlanta to Texas, but its sort of a jazz mess stumbling around until it finally reaches it's anticlimactic end. When I first heard this record I really didn't like it, but a few times through brings a new amount of appreciation for what Bridges is trying to do. The album is not bad, but it has enough tracks to make you scratch your head and wonder what could have been. Hopefully next time around Leon Bridges stops straddling the fence and goes one way or another, because this middle ground just does not suit him.
7.0 out of 10