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Leon Bridges puts a modern spin on the blues

Bridges will mix old and new sounds in his appearance at Roots N Blues.

By Ashley Jones | Sept. 26, 2017

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Leon Bridges combines old school style and modern-day indie rock. On Sept. 30, Bridges will bring the good ol’ sound of blues to his main demographic, millennials, at the Roots N Blues N BBQ festival.

MU sophomore and Bridges fan Sage Williams appreciates Bridges’ attempt to bring back a genre that is largely taken for granted.

“I would say he really aims to bring back the culture of Sam Cooke and the many individuals who laid the groundwork of blues,” Williams said in an email. “He utilizes this sound without putting a modern sound or spin on the music. I believe he could benefit from growing to utilize the genres that were created by the time he is trying to bring back. However, he is a solid artist who I enjoy.”

MU students who have not heard of Bridges listened to his music and gave their initial impressions.

“I was just trying to figure out what the river was,” sophomore Val Addison said when he first heard Bridges’ hit “River.”

The song’s music video has imagery that reflects racial tension in modern America. There are images of a black man walking away from a crime scene with blood on his shirt, a candlelight vigil for black victims of police brutality and a church service in the rain. When Addison heard “River, he noticed that the song gave off a spiritual vibe.

“It kind of rubbed me as like a slave song, like freedom or something,” Addison said.

MU junior Breyana Price described Bridges’ sound as laid-back indie.

“I really liked it,” Price said. “The tone of his voice is really pretty. It’s relaxing.”

However, those reviews were only based on one song. If Addison or Price heard Bridges’ song “Outta Line” off of Coming Home, they might get a feel for ‘20s hip-hoppy blues. The track’s happy tone landed it the number eight spot on MOVE’s playlist of Bridges’ best tracks.

“Here in My Arms” incorporates a ‘20s vibe with a slow, romantic tune featuring an organ, trumpets and doo-wop background singers to add a vintage touch.

“Smooth Sailin’” has a touching backstory. During an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, Bridges revealed that he wrote this song after his grandfather told him about seeing Bridges’ grandmother for the first time.

Bridges graced followers’ ears with the release of his single “River” from his 2015 debut album Coming Home in 2016. Bridges also wrote and recorded the song “So Long” for the Golden Globe-nominated motion picture “Concussion” featuring Will Smith.

Bridges wrote the rest of the songs from Coming Home himself. If you want to take a journey through poignant, old-timey music that embodies classic blues, every track is worth a listen.

Edited by Brooke Collier | bcollier@themaneater.com

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