Review: Leon Bridges' Good Thing

In the days leading up to the release of his second album Good Thing on May 4th, Leon Bridges has released several singles from the album including, “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand,” “Bad Bad News,” and “Beyond” - all of which are accompanied by music videos and album artwork. Thus far, the collaborative efforts between the Louisiana native and his producer, Ricky Reed, have conjured  a new music genre, blending soul with rhythm & blues, and 1990s bee-bop with old school jazz. The effect? A tantalising musical experience that blurs the line between previously held musical genres. 

Within the first few seconds of “Beyond” - the third release of Good Thing - listeners are transported to a night under the starry skies of Texas with Bridges’ warm acoustics and husky vocals. And it doesn’t end there. Be prepared to be lassoed into the scene of deep-south romance with a catchy chorus led by an ambitious tambourine screaming 1990s romcom (think Backstreet Boys meets the theme-song of Friends). Bridges has yet again packed his songs with hopelessly romantic themes of transcendent and everlasting love, but isn’t there something truly satisfying about a sappy chorus line that one can tap their armadillo skin boot to? 

On a more melancholic note, “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand” deals with a slightly more complicated theme: to chase the one you love, or chase your dreams. Perhaps cowboy romance isn’t all it’s “whipped-up” to be, and it looks like Bridges might think so too. The song opens with a slow musicbox and harp jingle (I know, who knew that combo was even an option) and then jumps into an epic debate about the pros and cons of staying with the one you love, or...becoming a man. And if you didn’t think the two could exist simultaneously, this tragic love tale might be the answer to your qualms. Bridges lays it all out: don’t fall in love with a man who wants a bigger dream than you. Perhaps, the bet isn’t worth the hand, but that’s like asking, is it better to have loved and have lost than never loved at all? 

And this takes us to “Bad Bad News” - the most reminiscent of his recent releases to the slow pace of Louisiana jazz. A soft electric guitar riff and sumptuous percussion head leads the listener through an emotional narrative of overcoming doubt, facing fears, and fashioning an identity against all odds. Who knew that smooth jazz could be about self-transformation? Either way, Bridges has crafted a musical narrative that touches the emotional realm of artistry and musicianship. 

 

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