I’ve always loved Sam Cooke. Legend has it that the first song I ever sang along to was “Sixteen.” All grown up now, I like to put on his albums when I’m feeling nostalgic or lonely; Cooke’s smooth tone and melodies always welcome me like an old friend.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered the magic that is Leon Bridges.
In his song “River,” Bridges offers that same soul and yearning that Cooke gave us in his hits like “Cupid” and “Bring It On Home To Me.”
While Cooke bargains for love in “Cupid,” “River” drifts Bridges through pleas for absolution and hope.
With each chord Bridges wades through, you feel a desperation for change, another motif Cooke beautifully harmonized in his “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
Praying for a cleansing from his tribulations, Bridges lets us listen in as he confesses his burdens and seeks salvation.
With each verse, you can hear gradual empowerment as he inches closer to his “River” and releases his demons in this melodic baptism.
Sons of soul, both Cooke and Bridges embed such a truth and humanity into their lyrics of love and loss that you can’t help but share their need, demanding their choruses with them.
(Song recommendation by Emili Lamph)