Your Choice Way

Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound Music Album Reviews

Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound Music Album Reviews
The Texas singer delivers a smooth, risk-averse R&B album whose nostalgic trappings aim for timelessness.

​Gold-Diggers Sound, the title of Leon Bridges' new album, is also a tribute to the place it was recorded, a newly swanky hotel/bar/studio in East Hollywood called Gold-Diggers. It’s good branding for Bridges, who has always presented himself and his music as timeless, which is to say, of a better time, somewhere back in the sepia-toned 20th century. The sense of place suggested by a studio on Santa Monica Boulevard would seem to harken back to that time, and it sets the tone for Bridges’ Hollywood record, which is what this album seeks to be.

What does that mean, beyond the title? Vocal stylings that occasionally sound like those of Frank Ocean; lilting, drawn-out vowels; and an understated delivery that can bely the power of Bridges’ show-stopping voice. Mastering from Daddy Kev, co-founder of the Low End Theory and a Los Angeles musician’s musician par excellence. And features from the talented multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin and pianist Robert Glasper, both of whom helped out on To Pimp a Butterfly, that maximalist portrait of the city.

Gold-Diggers Sound is far from maximalist. In the tradition of Bridges’ work, it’s a smooth, risk-averse R&B record, pleasant to the ear and lacking in any songs that would shake up one’s impression of the Texan soul singer. But it’s an album made with extraordinary care, and while it sometimes flirts with tedium, Bridges’ voice and producers Ricky Reed and Nate Mercereau’s subtle instrumental choices keep many of its songs out of the valley of the bland.

The opening pair of tracks offers a sampler of the record’s quiet strengths. “Motorbike” opens with guitar plucking and quiet drumming, with Bridges allowing his voice to roughen briefly as the song rounds a corner into its first chorus. “Born Again,” which was written in Texas, is sumptuous, with swirling sax from Martin and keyboard from Glasper flattering Bridges’ range. 

The impact of both songs, as well as a third, the twinkling mid-tempo jam “Steam,” is blunted by Bridges’ restraint. This is a musician for whom so much is effortless. As a result, there is frequently no sign that he is trying, that he is fully committed to what he is singing. Why, when “Motorbike” reaches that first chorus, do we not get the catharsis of release, hearing what his voice can really, truly do? Why, on the breathtakingly pretty lament “Why Don’t You Touch Me?,” does Bridges decline to give himself over completely to a hook that demands something more than hypercompetence? He seems reluctant to fully express the emotions that the songs on Gold-Diggers Sound gesture toward.

Lyrically, this may be Bridges’ best-written record, with motifs worth paying attention to. A notable one is time—more specifically, time stopping, which makes sense when one remembers that Bridges was living, and for some time trapped, at Gold-Diggers. “Don’t Worry,” a well-structured song on which he sings full-throatedly, with a nice feature from Atia “Ink” Boggs, mentions a clock stopping. “Motorbike” makes passing reference to a similar idea, which is explored most fully on “Sweeter,” a Martin feature on which Bridges questions why so little has changed since the 1960s: “I thought we moved on from the darker days/Did the words of the King disappear in the air like a butterfly?” While the song, released shortly after the murder of George Floyd, is focused on injustice, it really lingers on the idea of being replaceable. A line on “Why Don’t You Touch Me?” does the same, while adding a new thought: “I’m dressing to the nines and your eye’s straying.”

We know, thanks to a recent article in Texas Monthly in which Bridges was admirably candid, that the singer struggles deeply with his own self-worth. On Gold-Diggers Sound, he appears at times to realize that the perfect aesthetic—the right vintage clothing, or even the right studio—may not be the route to self-realization. But Texas Monthly also showed the way that Bridges uses nostalgia as a source of self, to bolster his self-esteem. (“Nostalgia is the antidote,” he tells the reporter.) And on this album, every time it feels as if he’s close to breaking out—and the album’s best songs are replete with moments in which Bridges seems a hair’s breadth away from true passion—he recedes into the background and lets the technical expertise of his studio players, or that timeless-seeming studio itself, take over. For listeners, Bridges’ nostalgia, frequently expressed as seamless sonic perfectionism, doesn’t function as an antidote, but as a shield. The props don’t distinguish him. They only disguise him further.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound Music Album Reviews Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, July 30, 2021 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment