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Vintage soul singer Leon Bridges’s excellent albums Coming Home and Good Thing were smartly observed and performed. Still, there’s always the feeling that such reverential revivalism, no matter the quality of his songwriting and singing, winds up on a dead-end road called Bruno Mars Close. Could Bridges edge out of his comfort zone and focus his acute vision on more obscure terrain?
Gold-Diggers Sound proves he can. Named after the Hollywood hotel studio bar where he worked and played for two years improvising and refining these delicately spacious songs, it’s a sparkling collection. Afrobeat, jazz, R&B, psych and even country flood its veins, following the subtler path of last year’s Sweeter, a lament for George Floyd. Reflective and regretful, it sets the tone for an album of questions with no easy answers.
Mostly, Bridges sings his fever dreams of perfect love, hopeful as an unrung bell. Magnolias, Motorbike and intoxicating duet Don’t Worry are all superb. Why Don’t You Touch Me monologues a dissolving union, the singer so impassioned and nakedly personal that it feels impolite to overhear. Seriously impressive, unashamedly grown-up songs from, and for, the soul.