Good Thing – Leon Bridges (2018)

“Good Thing” is the 2nd studio album released by American artist Leon Bridges and is the follow up to his debut project “Coming Home” which was generally well received in the US selling over 500,000 copies which for album so seeped in retro soul vibe it did very well.

People will always love soul music and there will a craving for an artist to bring out the type of American soul music produced in the 60’s but my issue with “Coming Home” was that Bridges was a one trick pony who was almost doing a covers album without any covers.

I dismissed him at this point because whilst I thought he had a beautiful voice I believed he was just going to be a gimmick act and for me there is nothing worse than a gimmick act that doesn’t know they are a gimmick.

But once the singles from this new album “Good Thing” begun to surface they instantly had me engaged because he has done what all good artists should do which is go away and learn from what they did previously by taking the good parts and focusing on them and discarding those moments that just didn’t work or cannot continue to work.

Whilst I don’t believe Bridges has given us a fantastic album full of new ideas I do believe he has shown amazing progression as there are a few songs on here that are just exceptional.

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The album kicks off with possibly the best soul song I have heard in the last decade – “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand”. Whilst it again keeps in with the style of 60’s soul Leon Bridges sings the shit out of this song. I haven’t heard a song sung with so much emotion and love as this.

Bridges is telling someone he loves that he cannot be with them as the risk to the rest of his life and his career is just too big to take. He is at pains to do this but feels he has to because he realises where things are going and he needs to slow down.

On the first few listens to this track really pressed on the emotion button and it was hard not to feel a lump in the throat at what the track was saying. A beautiful song sung so expertly he deserves an award for this alone.

Making it’s way into my top 10 songs of 2018 is the 2nd track on this album “Bad Bad News”.

Usually songs take their time to really enter my consciousness yet “Bad Bad News” was an instant winner from the moment I heard it because it was so my sort of thing. The whole production of this track is a joy to listen to and whilst I have played it over and over again it always excites me the moment the first beat hits.

The way the song is sung is perfectly although I have seen him sing this live and not been as impressed due to him singing the verses too quickly and not taking care with the way he delivers the lyrics.

But on this studio recording it is one of the most fantastic songs I have heard.

“Shy” has a more contemporary sound then the opening couple of tracks. This takes a little longer to warm to but the melody of the song is so cool that it soon becomes a song you can really sink your teeth into as Bridges talks about love and being with someone who might be a bit tentative but he is opening himself up and telling this person that they can trust him.

“Beyond” is a real killer of a track. It is terribly saccharine and if you are a little lukewarm about soul music with the theme of love then this might make you vomit.

But I think it’s just exquisite. The lyrics are laid on thick, but the simple production and pretty instrumentation mixed with the impassioned delivery Bridges gives makes this song something very special. I think it’s a beautiful sentiment and is deliberate in what it is trying to achieve.

The 5th track is “Forgive Me”. It has more than a tempo than the tracks we have listened to up until this point but lyrically falls down as it is cliché ridden and contradictory. He wants to forgive someone but he is told by people not to but at the same time wants her to know that they are okay.

“Lions” is a song I really like as it has that Smokey club feel of “Bad Bad News”. It is such a cool track which shows a real progression for Bridges who comes away from the 60’s soul into a more contemporary Neo Soul bracket which I think really suits him.

The first dance number on “Good Thing” is the 7th track “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)” as we delve into a more disco-esq category. The production remains subtle and never goes into a real harder funkier territory which I would have liked to have seen it go but the familiar sounding riff is still potent and this is a highly enjoyable track on what is really a quite enjoyable album.

But the disco edge is given a bigger lease of life with “You Don’t Know”. The main issue I have with this track is that it is too short! At only 02.52 this really leaves you wanting more as this 80’s sounding funky soulful jam really just makes me want to dance. A real gem amongst some of the more traditional soulful numbers.

Things are slowed down by the penultimate track “Mrs”. This song injects a little bit of humour into what on the surface seems similar to some of the other love songs.

This has much more of a twist as ultimately the song is about how he and his wife argue a lot but just when they are wondering why they are even together it is the sex that brings it all back together.

The physical part of their relationship is what keeps them together and whilst this is told in all good spirit the concern for their future moving forward lingers in the background.

We end with the track “Georgia To Texas”.

By far the most personal track on the album as he talks about his mother travelling to Texas whilst she was pregnant.

My favourite thing about this song is the instrumentation. I just love that live feel on tracks such as this and the saxophone element the song has just melts me away.

I love the production with the backing vocals and how Leon Bridges just rides over the melody in such a connective way. When he really gets it right he sounds so beautiful and one of the best pure singers around in the world of music at the moment.

 

Leon Bridges has given us a real taste of what he can do with 10 songs that showcase his velvety vocal over a range of interesting and intriguing songs. There is very little filler on “Good Thing” and is one of the easiest listens I have sat down with in 2018.

 

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