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Album Review: Leon Bridges ‘Good Thing’

Smoldering soul and some of the best lyrics of 2018.

Adam Shay

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Soul has been sort of a lost genre for years now, not as prominent as it was in the ’60s and ’70s. Leon Bridges, however, has stepped up into the void and poured his soul into his second studio album Good Thing

The record got a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and showcases a wide range of catchy singles, including “Bad Bad News” and “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand.”  Bridges, born in Fort Worth, Tex., has soul and blues rooted in his blood. After his 2015 debut album Coming Home, a ten-song collection of doo-wop and soul jams, Bridges did an excellent job of sticking to his roots, while also incorporating new genres. 

Lyrically, Good Thing should be considered for best written album of the year. Bridges dives deep into his past, reliving moments of pain and regret, as well timid nature in the song “Shy.” Bridges’ greatest talent is allowing himself to become vulnerable, expressing his emotions through beautiful lyrics with a soulful bent.

“Beyond,” the third single off Good Thing, was released on April 20, 2018, a perfect time to release the song.  With lyrics that are easy to remember and an upbeat tempo — plus a crossover version with country singer Luke Combs —”Beyond” was a top song of the summer. 

As great as the singles were off Good Thing, Leon’s true talent is displayed in the ninth song on the album “Mrs.” It was my second most played song of 2018 (according to Spotify), and is arguably Bridges’ best song to date. It focuses on a struggling relationship, going through the pros and cons of loving “Mrs.” and lyrically, is phenomenal. With meaningful lines, including the clever, “skin to skin/ before you knew how to get under mine,” supported by a slow beat, this song sounds as if it came off a Sam Cooke album. 

 Closing songs on any album are important, and Good Thing  concludes perfectly. In the low monotone song “Georgia to Texas,” Bridges unleashes himself in memory of losing his virginity to a prostitute, going astray from the path his mother raised him on. With the song ending in repetition, it shows the remorse in his voice, supported by deep piano and saxophone. To conclude a soul album, Bridges nailed the ending with “Georgia to Texas.”

Despite the album being nominated for a Grammy, it’s not entirely flawless. The two disco tunes “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be),” and “You Don’t Know” felt out of place. 

Good Thing has a great, retro-soul flow, but once Bridges transitions to those disco tunes, the flow abruptly halts. Placing those tunes between “Lions,” a contemporary R&B song, followed by “Mrs.”  was a bad choice. 

The main aspect to take away from Good Thing is how Bridges did a wonderful job of avoiding the sophomore slump. He incorporated his blues roots from Coming Home, added a more R&B feel to the album, and tried out some disco, — and even though those songs may have weakened the album, it was worth a shot. Bridges is only 29, meaning the radio and fans will hopefully be hearing his work for years to come. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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