Soul singer Leon Bridges paired with psychedelic three-person band Khruangbin to create an album which relies on the funky rhythm foundation of the Houston-based band and Bridges’ smooth vocals. Khruangbin’s style — jam session meets sharp grooves — jives along in a effortless way, softened by Bridges’ lyrics and equally effortless vocals. The combo serves to remove much of that southern soul element Bridges’ channeled in his debut album “Coming Home” and replaces that blues with a modern twisted funk.
Leon Bridges’ song writing does not disappoint. With some truly heartsick lyrics like “Inside, you and I, leather under our skin / fell deep in a romantic way back then” from “Midnight,” Bridges is blinded by the romance in the night air. All the songs are about sex; whether it’s backseat love-making or sinful lust, the album is sexy if nothing else. Bridges’ lady is to be found dancing all night or smoking out a car window, captured in black-and-white photographs with red lipstick, I imagine.
The title track takes us to a single moment of two people on a road, in a car. A fleeting moment, baking in the southern heat, the song anticipates the night moves to come in the following tracks. The scene is pure compared to the lust Bridges sings about come night time.
The album also has a focus on religion, as is typical of Bridges. “Conversion” is hard-hitting and brutal in its honesty: “I was blinded swimming in my filthy / Now my heart has been turned to righteous, righteous.” The stories he tells are of ideas that feel ancient: conversion, finding the love of God, dwelling in a boundless faith, escaping bad habits. Bridges says over and over, “Your love poured into my heart.” He comes across as a mystic, relying on his god for forgiveness and truth and, most of all, love. Khruangbin backs him up and creates a sound which is jazzy and slow, pushing on with a laziness. If you didn’t listen to the lyrics, “Conversion” could be yet another tale of late-night love.
Overall, the album is romantic, beckoning endless, smokey nights and dusty highways. Bridges is simply a man who had been “a prisoner living in my prison / of ignorance, my mouth full of curses and bitterness.” The deserts of Texas truly are a breeding ground for forlorn reflection of previous sins. Bridges “crossed over the desert land” and emerged renewed. In merely four songs, Bridges and Khruangbin have created an album which covers love and faith and lust wrapped up in sharp guitar riffs and the sultry voice of Bridges himself, beginning with sweet-sinning indulgence and ending in redemption.
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