Leon Bridges Good Thing

Leon Bridges Good Thing
8
Climbing out of the pigeonhole of a retro R&B act — albeit an excellent one, teleported from Sam Cooke's era to ours — Leon Bridges' sophomore record rings as an endorsement of his range. And that's a great thing for Good Thing, which tempers its pop-radio ambitions with unique bends on the age-old love song in this super-tight, 35-minute ride.
 
The proud momma's boy from Fort Worth, TX still lets his influences peek through his pipes — you can spot Ginuwine, Prince, Curtis Mayfield and D'Angelo at various moments — but Bridge's versatility keeps us on our toes this time. Vocally, he's taking way more risks: He toys with falsetto on scintillating opener "Bet Ain't Worth the Hand"; whips out a summery dance number in the vein of Bruno Mars or Pharrell with "If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)"; and goes full wedding dance on the delicate "Beyond."
 
Grammy-gunning producer Ricky Reed brushes the project a clean shine, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. The sound is digitally crisp, no doubt, but we're caught wondering if some tracks wouldn't resonate better with some raw dirt. Good Thing closes with the bluesy, PG-13 "Mrs." and the autobiographical "Georgia to Texas," which ends a bold effort on a brave note. And suggests there are more layers to this 28-year-old still to be revealed. (Columbia)