Photo by Natsumi Arakawa
It was the end of a glorious day of sunshine up at the Field of Heaven and as the heat began to abate there was a cool breeze of a voice to guide us gently into the evening. 26-year old Leon Bridges is a man in possession of an old soul with a voice honeyed to a polish reminiscent of Sam Cooke or Otis Redding, something the singer has capitalized on with the production on “Coming Home”, an album so dipped in analog you could probably hear the vinyl hiss on it.
The other sound that came to mind with Bridges, as he launched straight into “Smooth Sailin'” is the clunk of jukeboxes slipping from one record to another, and Bridges could be any one of those old records. His set moved through a variety of classic styles, from more Motown-infused soul to blues; there was high-paced rock ‘n roll, the high school prom slow number, and even something to get you jiving. It was a solid dose of nostalgia and done so well even an audience not well-versed in the songs bopped easily along to numbers familiar in other ways. Bridges is an artists who would be accused of being derivative if not for the fact that he does it so well. How unique a voice he has among the others playing the Field of Heaven made him a stand out act of the weekend for me. Chilled and wistful, tender and at times even a bit naughty, it was a perfect way to ease out the weekend.