Style and sub­stance

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - JIM CAR­ROLL

smit­ten and de­cided to work with the singer.

One thing lead to another andBridges is now hooked up with a ma­jor la­bel which has em­barked on a a se­ri­ous mar­ket­ing drive and all that that brings with it.

The thing is, though, Bridges has the where­withal to back up all of these ex­pec­ta­tions. A star from head to toe in stylish vintage clob­ber, Bridges is a singer rock­ing gospel, r’n’b and south­ern soul with fan­tas­tic riffs and a size­able dol­lop of con­fi­dence.

The songs at his dis­posal here are meaty and sub­stan­tial, a pa­rade of tunes which ben­e­fit from a kind of se­cret sauce to en­sure that their throw­back flavours don’t quite dom­i­nate the dish.

Again and again, he re­peats the trick all great soul singers have of tak­ing you with him on the jour­ney. Take Smooth Sailin’, for in­stance. It’s got the funk and it makes no bones about it, with Bridges ef­fort­lessly find­ing his way to the heart of the groove and bring­ing the lis­tener with him.

Be it the ro­man­tic sway which makes the ti­tle track such an ear­worm, the gor­geous doo-wop tones which mark out Bet­ter Man or how Lisa Sawyer is a cheeky, yet lovely por­trait of his mother, Bridges makes the art of writ­ing in­fec­tious songs seem like the eas­i­est thing in the world to do.

If he keeps do­ing this in the fu­ture, those Cooke com­par­isons will be­gin to fade into the rear-view mir­ror. leon­bridges.com

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