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(Credit: Justin Hardiman / Press)

Music

Leon Bridges releases soulful duet with Jasmine Sullivan, 'Summer Rain'

@SamWKemp
Leon Bridges - 'Summer Rain'
7.3

Leon Bridges has just released the deluxe edition of his recent album Gold-Diggers Sound. The original version features 12 tracks, featuring the likes of Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper. This new edition, however, includes a stunning duet with Jasmine Sullivan titled ‘Summer Rain’. Gold-Diggers Sound (Deluxe) is out now via Columbia.

‘Summer Rain’ opens to the laid-back pulse of close-miked drums and the gentle slide of an easeful chord progression played on a softly-strummed acoustic guitar. As these velvet-lined textures give way to Bridges’ smokey vocals, we hear his words blend in a thick mix of overdubs as he sings of the burgeoning chemistry between two would-be lovers. With the second verse, Jasmine Sullivan enters the fold, bringing a gospel-infused vocal virtuosity that has rightly made her the modern queen of R&B.

Gold-Diggers Sound sees Leon Bridges join forces with producers Ricky Reed and Nate Mercereau. Together, they have created a record that stays true to the classic R&B sound Bridges explored in his debut (2015’s Coming Home) while also embracing a range of psychedelic and nu-soul influences. Bridges first record was steeped in the vintage sound of Al Green and Otis Redding, but over the last few years, he has come into his own, choosing to put imitation to one side and curate something fresh and vital.

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This new offering sees Bridges embrace a sound that will be familiar to listeners of Tom Misch and Hiatus Kaiyote. As a result, it can, at times, feel like a throwback to the landfill nu-soul years of 2016/17. Still, ‘Summer Rain’ manages to avoid cliche, with Bridges pushing his sound towards something he can call his own, a goal he has been moving towards since his debut and which seems to have finally been achieved.

Describing that transitionary period in a statement, Bridges said: “I spent two years jamming in what often felt like a musician’s paradise. We effortlessly moved from the dance floor to the studio. We would be finishing our tequilas at 10:00 AM and waking up with coffee and getting to work at 10:00 PM. It was all for the love of R&B and musicianship. This is my most sensual and confident album to date.”

It has certainly been a busy few years for Leon Bridges. Prior to his success, he was cleaning dishes and busking on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas. Not long after, he found himself signed to a major label and about to perform for President Obama at the White House. After bagging a Grammy for his celebrated second album Good Thing, he spent some time collaborating with the likes of John Mayer, Kacey Musgraves, and fellow Texans Khruangbin, with whom he released the phenomenal Texas Sun.

All of this seems to have led Bridges towards a fresh new sound that is exemplified in ‘Summer Rain’, a song born from the late-night jam sessions that allowed Bridges and his band to break free from the structured world of tour dates and studio schedules. ‘Summer Rain’, despite being down-tempo and luxuriously soulful feels like the product of an artist on the cusp of something truly unique.

Take a listen below.