Swanky, tranquil journey of Bridges
Traversing immeasurable plains of emotion and newfound R&B, acclaimed Texas singer Leon Bridges delivers serenity in his newest LP, Gold-Diggers Sound. Bridges’ album aims for a nostalgic Hollywood style, riding a wake that was thought to have left music today. The album’s title tributes to the location it was recorded: a swanky hotel, speakeasy and studio called Gold-Diggers. Bridges maintains his almost sepia-toned repertoire, which presents his music in a way that benefits the sound and himself as a brand. His previous work dabbles in the Texan portrait of his roots, though this album takes a sharp turn further West. This album is definitely for easy listening.
“Don’t Worry” might contain a slight tinge of those Texas roots with a looming guitar, but Bridges sings fully with the accompaniment of Atia “Ink” Boggs for a bit of strain on the well-structured dynamic of this song. But the final brass-section element is what tops it off, polishing not only this track but many others in this LP. This track, along with “Motorbike,” dive into the intricacies of time and all the movements forwards and backward.
Bridges’ work has a handful of similarities with Frank Ocean’s infamous album Blonde. Bridges elongates verse endings and varies his pitch in line with Ocean’s music. Though Bridges embeds his own personality into these tracks, blending the lines of musical genres to mold something new. “Magnolias” is a fine example of this, where Bridges’ vocals gently float over a light R&B beat and other instruments.
Aligning with some of his previous creations, Bridges has a tendency to evoke emotions out of his listeners. He can mend soundwaves and add a reflective element to create something special. Released shortly after the murder of George Floyd, “Sweeter” lingers in themes of injustice, it also adds a reflection on the idea of being replaceable. A closer listen into this track and others will offer unbecoming self-realizations. This especially stands out on “Blue Mesas,” highlighting a common sense of loneliness amongst the ones you know best.
Bridges has been open about his struggle with his own self-worth. A recent piece in Texas Monthly shows his candidness with this mental battle, and many of the details are apparent in the lyrics of this LP. Perfectionism is often sought by musicians in parallel with the idolization of another artist, though many tend to internalize it, which can haunt for a lifetime. Bridges’ openness is not only honorable, but his ability to show this in a creative manner only distinguishes him more as an artist. Gold-Diggers Sound is a journey that destabilizes this perfect aesthetic and builds upon several issues in a serene and evocative symphony.