Fusing the smooth sultry tones that he has become famous for coupled with some invigorating pop beats and synthesisers, Leon Bridges is back. The R&B and soul leanings from his previous albums are still there, but there is an evolution in his sound. It till feels somewhat retro, but this time those elements are interlaced with some meaty lo-fi vibes along with some psychedelic influences which can be heard throughout the eleven tracks that feature on this album.
The record is named after the studio where all eleven songs were written and recorded. In fact, Gold Diggers is not just a recording studio, but also a bar/hotel in Los Angeles, situated off the infamous Santa Monica Boulevard. The album is a collection of stories from the singer’s life and celebrates his immersive experience of creating music in the same East Hollywood room where he lived and worked over a period of two years.
Just when you think Leon Bridges can’t get any better, enter ‘Gold-Diggers Sound’ – an absolute triumph for the Texan-born singer. It is set to be Bridges’ finest work yet with sublime vocals throughout. The opening track ‘Born Again’ talks of Bridges experience of feeling lost and ‘chasing the memories inside’ sees a collaboration with Robert Glasper. This introspective song sets the tone for the album and the journey that the listener will go on. The album ends with ‘Blue Mesas’ which brings the album full circle. Again, he revisits a feeling of isolation and lonely and how this can still happen, even if you are surrounded by a wide group of people. “There’s a price on my pain / For hiding feeling I don’t say…”
Bridges also collaborates with Junior's Fanfare on ‘Gold-Diggers’ (which evokes feelings of being in a speakeasy in the 1920s) and Ink on ‘Don’t Worry’, an effortless groove that will have you dancing all night long. He is no stranger to collaborations of course and has previously worked with Khruangbin, John Mayer, and more. Both vocals are standout and compliment each other perfectly.
Lead single ‘Motorbike’ is more ‘pop-orientated’ than the rest of the album and talks of how “we don’t stop, but the time do”. The single debuted alongside a Bonnie and Clyde styled music video directed by Anderson .Paak. Romance remains a key theme, and on the track ‘Magnolias’ Leon sings of a pure love that is so organic that he can’t leave.
‘Gold-Diggers Sound’ is an effortless and easy listen thanks to the high production value, Bridges’ velvety-smooth vocals, and the strength of his songwriting, it’s set to be one of the albums of the year.
Words: Emma Harrison
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