LISTEN UP: Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges in concert

When I first heard “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, I assumed he was a 50’s singer. His smooth, Sam Cooke-esque vocals mixed with some killer guitar riffs, doo-wopping backup singers and sprinkled-in saxophone solos make his debut album sound like something straight out of a 1950’s diner jukebox. (Photo on the left by: digboston)

26-year-old soul singer Leon Bridges burst onto the music scene after signing with Columbia Records in December of last year. Before that point, he worked as a dishwasher in Fort Worth, Texas, while occasionally performing at small, open-mic gigs around his city. Things have only gotten crazier for Leon since being discovered last year. After signing with Columbia, Leon played gigs all over Texas, supported singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten in NYC, received the award for Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify for his debut single, “Coming Home” (which is amazing, by the way), and he is planning to continue playing numerous shows around the world over the next few months.

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Photo by Julio Enriquez

It’s so refreshing to see artists like Leon succeeding in the music industry today. With a truly retro voice and style, Leon sings straight from the heart. I love that he’s reviving a nostalgic genre of music in a way that’s captivated a young audience–teenagers (as well as adults) all around the world are swooning over Leon’s silky-smooth harmonies, vintage-inspired Instagram posts, and dance-worthy choruses.

Leon’s beautiful song “Lisa Sawyer,” which he wrote about his mother and her life story, was key in jumpstarting his music career. After its release on SoundCloud last year, the song hit 800,000 views and sparked the interest of more than 40 record labels.

With influences like Arthur Alexander, Sam Cooke, & Otis Redding inspiring him everyday, Leon’s songwriting centers around personal experience. I love this quote from  from his recent chat with interviewmagazine.com: “In the beginning, I was so inspired by the music. I had the option to make something modern with classic undertones, but I wanted to make something that was exactly like that old sound. Of course, it’s going to come out in my own way because I have R&B influences, but it’s cool how my songwriting works out; a lot of the time, I’m not writing just classic-sounding songs, but songs that come from experience. Look at “Brown Skin Girl,” a song I wrote about my ex-girlfriend, or “Twistin’ & Groovin,'” which is about my grandparents. I love the pioneers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but when I write music, it comes out in my own way. ”

(Make sure to check out the full interview here!leon-album-cover)

My favorite tracks on Coming Home are “River” (the guitar intro & chorus are so lovely), “Coming Home” (Leon nails the perfect retro music video with this one) & “Better Man.”

Find Leon Bridges below, and make sure to get yourself a copy of his debut album, “Coming Home.”

 

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LISTEN UP: Hozier

Hozier

Hozier

Hozier’s voice is like hot tea on a rainy day in November. Warm, comforting, and just a little bit addictive. Lately, I’ve been listening to Hozier on repeat–I just can’t get enough. (Photo by Brendan Lynch)

Andrew (Hozier)-Byrne has had a crazy successful year so far. His self-titled album Hozier (released September of this year) is growing in popularity around the world. He’s gaining the attention of Indie-rock music fans all around the globe, building himself a loyal fanbase. So far, my favorite songs from his album are: “Cherry Wine”, “From Eden”, “Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene”, “Like Real People Do”, & “It Will Come Back.” His songs are mysterious; they always leave you thinking about what the true meaning behind each one is.

You’ve probably heard his most popular song, “Take Me To Church” playing on numerous alternative music radio stations. According to Wikipedia, the song reached number one on the Irish iTunes singles chart and number two in the official chart last year. He also performed the song on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. Click here to watch his amazing performance!

hozier outsideHozier, who’s originally from Bray, County Wicklow in Ireland, is currently on a massive tour around America & the UK. (Click here to find out if he’s coming to a city near you!) Most of his shows are sold out, but I managed to catch one of his performances about two weeks ago in a small, acoustic venue. When I heard him sing, I literally got goosebumps. His voice is infectious; it filled the entire room, vibrating through the walls and leaving everyone in awe. Check out my favorite performance he did that day, “Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene,” here.

After the show, my friend and I waited outside the venue to see if he’d come out to take pictures & chat. He did! I met him very briefly, but he was so sweet. He was so friendly, and willing to sign everything the fans were handing him, even when the security guards were pushing him to finish up and hop into the car to leave. When artists have such an appreciative attitude towards their fans like Hozier did, I love them so much more. (Photo of Hozier greeting fans on the left.)

imageMy friend & I meeting Hozier!

If you listen to Jake Bugg, Foy Vance, or Snow Patrol, I would highly recommend you listen to Hozier. Click here to listen to his full (flawless) album!

Browse his website here.

Check out his YouTube here.

Tweet him here.