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Leon Bridges - Good Thing - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €24.95

Leon Bridges never set out to be a nostalgia act. Growing up in the ’90s, he was devoted to the R&B of Usher and Ginuwine and his earliest performances at open-mic nights in his native Fort Worth were of neo-soul songs sketched out over readymade beats. Though his debut album, 2015’s Coming Home, was a study of early ’60s soul music written at the altar of Sam Cooke, Bridges strives to be considered among his contemporaries as well as his forebears. He’s shared bills with One Direction expats, appeared on songs with Macklemore and ODESZA, and popped up in a music videowith Portland rapper Aminé.

Perceived obligation pulled Bridges into the fold of traditional soul music, he’s said: As a young singer considering the profound legacy of black musicians like Cooke and his peers, Bridges felt compelled to pay them homage. If Coming Home was a remittance of dues, then, Bridges’ sophomore album, Good Thing, is a widening of horizons. His music remains broadly “retro” with a veil of analog fuzz built into the tracks, horn licks and references to the American South, and those buttery, laid-back vocal runs that drew a line from Bridges to his idol in the first place. But his temporal fixation has loosened, making room for a more elastic, eclectic approach to songwriting that feels perfectly contemporary.

This new adventurousness is most apparent in songs like “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)” and “You Don’t Know.” The former, a flirty, guitar-heavy funk number with a winsome opening line about being hotter than Texas, reveals its affinity for pop with plummy string synth and a bouncy four-count intro that tips its hat to Pharrell. Right on its heels, the equally upbeat “You Don’t Know” pairs Bridges’ dreamy falsetto with a boisterous disco track. These are the first entries in Bridges’ catalog that are, without question, meant for dancing, full of hints that he’s gunning for a spot in the same pop radio pantheon that he worshipped as a kid. In this pursuit, producer Ricky Reed—who in the past year has worked with Kesha, Maroon 5, and DNCE—is a worthy partner. It’s easy to point to Bridges’ major label credentials and call his crossover a commercial ploy, but with his upper-range theatrics and ineffable charisma, he makes a convincing pop vocalist.

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