Album Review | SOUL

Leon Bridges, ‘Coming Home’

The Texas-based soul singer Leon Bridges has released one of the year’s most compelling debuts, in part because its 10 songs sound like they could have been rescued from a Rock-Ola that hadn’t been plugged in for half a century. But his richly contoured, slightly raspy voice and the production work of Austin Jenkins and Josh Block (of the scruffy Texan rockers White Denim) give the album heft. “Coming Home” has the dry-brushed feel of old 45s, eschewing modern attempts to smooth away the rough edges that cause other neo-soul artists to sound just a bit too “neo.” Bridges came out of gospel, and small moments here serve as reminders: The hymnlike “Lisa Sawyer” describes his mother in loving detail, telling the story of her eventual conversion to Christianity; “Flower” turns a preacher’s warning of hellfire into a gently swinging jam. Love-gone-wrong laments like “Pull Away” and “Better Man” show that even those who reach toward the godly are hardly perfect — but they can at least find redemption in their art. (Out Tuesday)

Maura Johnston



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