Essentials: Leon Bridges ‘Coming Home’ Album Review

From the opening notes of Leon Bridges’ debut album Coming Home, we’re in the hands of a master of soul, rhythm and blues, and retro dynamics in delivery. He’s had three hit singles in the past year or so, all fervently praised. His gig at New York City’s Mercury Ballroom actually sold out in just one minute flat. At South by Southwest this year, he was honored with the Grulke Prize for Excellence.

This 25 year old from Fort Worth is already being declared the next big thing in music. And on the basis of what we hear on Coming Home, there’s a happy confluence of hype and genuine talent. We’re going to go so far as to say this is one of our fave releases of the year to date. Leon Bridges is a welcome throwback to the days when singers found their way onto records because they had something worth listening to – witness the accomplishments of the aforementioned Sam Cooke, then call up the ghosts of Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye.

You might think we’re simply crawling up on the bandwagon of neo-soul. Or that we praise to the skies anything that takes us back to the 20th century. However, his three singles to date “Better Man”, “Lisa Sawyer” and the title album track “Coming Home” are ample evidence that the choice of material and the production values on display reveal an outsize vocal talent and a lyric sensibility that serves a contemporary taste that goes beyond looking back to what was. Conjuring up the smoky soul of Sam Cooke, the debut album from Leon Bridges is a compelling old-school triumph.

Highly recommended.