We’ve been raving about Leon Bridges ever since SXSW. The 25-year-old Fort Worth native has kept his retro gospel soul fluttering in our eardrums with a slew of stellar singles, “Coming Home”, “River”, “Smooth Sailin'” and “Lisa Sawyer”. Now, via NPR’s First Listen platform, you can hear Coming Home in its entirety.

Imagination is the key element that makes Bridges’ rapid ascent more than a novelty. This former coffee house performer and admirer of Usher, working with fellow performing archivists Austin Jenkins and Josh Block of the psych-rock band White Denim, has built what seems at first like an airtight simulacrum of the music made in the year his mother was born. But really it’s a world in a bottle — one so detailed that it truly comes alive.


Bridges has been open about the process by which he became a vintage artist. He’s a millennial who educated himself through online listening; he doesn’t even have the dust from record-store bins on his fingers. (He does haunt vintage clothing stores, though.) His mother is what ties him physically to the era his music so strongly honors: One song he wrote, “Lisa Sawyer,” put him on this path, and it’s her story, beginning with her birth in New Orleans and moving through a youth in a poor loving family toward her Christian conversion as a teacher. “Lisa Sawyer,” which features a doo-wop arrangement and a Bridges vocal that’s more Nat King Cole than Cooke, is a son’s expression of respect and bottomless affection, and it personalizes this project in a way that makes all of Bridges’ studied appropriations shine with love.

Stream Leon Bridges’ Coming Home below. Purchase the album when it arrives on June 23rd.