Leon Bridges made himself a minor star with Coming Home, his 2015 debut album. The project positioned Bridges as a studious revivalist specializing in retro gospel, soul, and R&B sounds certain nostalgists crave and just about anyone can enjoy. He’s back today with a pair of tracks from his second album, and they suggest a pleasing creative evolution that builds upon his classic foundation without leaving it behind.
“Bad Bad News” plays around with old-fashioned jazz and soul in ways that feel more in step with the present. The beat is adjacent to hip-hop without ever fully giving itself over to the genre. Bridges’ vocal reminds me of another young phenom channeling the greats, Anderson .Paak. The guitar breaks are pure Wes Montgomery. All of this combines into something appealing and fresh.
The other new song, “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand,” is a breakup song that, ahem, bridges the more foundation R&B from his first album with more recent decades. The weepy strings are a blast from the distant past, but is that a flicker of Usher I hear in his voice? This one, too, is a keeper. Both tracks were cowritten and produced by Ricky Reed, and you can hear them below.
Bridges’ new album is out this year on Columbia. More details are allegedly coming soon.