The influence of older music has helped many artists find their sound and gain an audience. From using a sample to embracing an entire era, artists like Amy Winehouse, Daft Punk, Adele, Meghan Trainor, and Mumford and Sons (honestly, the list could go on), have found ways to incorporate classic genres such as blues, funk, and rock to introduce a new generation to music that’s helped shape what’s popular now. It’s interesting to look specifically at artists winning on the charts because of their throwback image and inspired sound.
For example, Meghan Trainor exploded on the scene last year with her doo-wop-infused pop single, “All About That Bass,” that had women embracing their different sizes and loving who they are. I’m a fan of Trainor’s music and can’t knock her talent as singer and writer, but her music isn’t breaking any new ground, especially when there are artists trying to change the landscape of the R&B scene with little fanfare. One artist that may be able to help bring the soul genre to the forefront is a man named Leon Bridges. Born in Fort Worth Texas, Bridges signed with Columbia Records in 2014 after his song, “Coming Home,” attracted a ton of buzz locally and later around the world through online platforms like Spotify.
Accompanied by a slow-tempo arrangement of laid back drums and a smooth guitar in the background, Bridges lays down vocals reminiscent of the great soul artists before his time (Bridges is receiving a lot of comparisons to Sam Cooke) as he lets his girl know he’s coming home to her. Listening to music from different genres sometimes makes it difficult to focus on a song if there’s isn’t something that makes me pay attention to it. It could be a witty lyric, or a hypnotizing production; basically, an element in the song that sets it apart from the other songs with similar structures dominating the radio.
The simplicity of “Coming Home” is what caught my attention. The production isn’t complex, and Bridges isn’t saying anything that hasn’t been said on thousands of love songs before it. But hearing Bridges’ velvet smooth vocals sing, “the world leaves a bitter taste in my mouth / girl you’re the only one that I want.” I’m sold on what Bridges is trying to say. I’m feeling a little late to the party since Bridges’ name has already been placed on many critics “artists to watch” lists after he performed in SXSW, but I’m glad I gave the song a listen.
Sometimes we get so lost in expensive campaigns, full of beautifully shot music videos, performances with crazy aesthetics, catchy songs produced by one of the same producers producing everything else on the charts, and we lose focus on the message. Music should make you feel something in its simplest form. Everything else is just supplemental. Leon Bridges announced his debut album, Coming Home, will be coming out June 23rd, and I’ll definitely be checking it out. Artists that sample or are influenced by older sound sometimes strive to make that hit and lose the timeless quality of those records, so let’s hope Bridges’ debut album isn’t something that’ll be forgotten anytime soon.