I am always on the lookout for new artists regardless of genre, and have to say that I do enjoy hearing that little hint of something that could become something great. I can remember exactly when and where I was when I first heard Leon Bridges, and I can also remember that I dug out a piece of paper to write his name down as I needed to research who I was listening to.
Zane Lowe played the song "Coming Home" on his Radio One show one evening in October last year and I just happened to hear it while I was sitting in a hotel room in London. I had only put the radio on to hear the new Fall Out Boy single, but I was met with this beautiful, soulful voice and knew straight away that this was going to be something that I would like.
Upon returning home, I tried to track down who this person was so I could see if there was an album available, but it turned out that only two demo songs existed on SoundCloud at that time. It appeared, however, that the exposure on Radio One had led to more people like myself trying to find out more about this artist as there was lots of sharing of these two songs happening on Twitter. I liked "Coming Home" so much that in my end of year blog for 2014, I stated that Leon would be an artist to watch out for in 2015. It looks like I was right.
So, who is Leon and what type of music does he play? I guess you could call him a retro throwback to the 1960s. His voice is reminiscent of the great Sam Cooke and despite only being 25 years old, he is bringing the old style soul to the masses on his debut album Coming Home. The album has been met with high praise indeed with the sweet sounds from this Texan native harking back to a more simple era - one that he’s not afraid to embrace.
Coming Home was recorded using retro equipment, which adds to the overall sound that he’s trying to achieve. You might think that this is just a new artist trying to copy his influences in order to make it into the charts, but this album isn’t like that: Leon clearly knows the style he wishes to emulate, but rather than just copying it, he has made something that is his own and given it a new feel.
Stand out songs for me include the gorgeous title track, and "Better Man", a song in which he is going to swim the Mississippi for his girl. Its rather upbeat style should have you tapping your feet along to it. The ten tracks on this debut deal with romance in a truly nostalgic style: you can hear the doo-wops in the background and the elements of blues soaked gospel on the closing track "River" will leave you wanting to hear more.
I think I was proved right on the fact that Leon is an artist to check out this year, but the question I guess should be does he have more to give in the future? I would certainly hope so. This is a great debut album and has come along to raise the profile of old style soulful R&B and bring it to a whole new audience. I am very much looking forward to hearing what comes next from this talented newcomer.