Gold-Diggers Sound

Gold-Diggers Sound

When Leon Bridges set out to make his third album, he wanted it to be different this time around. “We felt like the only way to unlock a unique sound was to create this immersive experience and find a place that was aesthetically inspiring,” he tells Apple Music. He landed on Gold-Diggers in East Hollywood, a three-in-one bar, hotel, and recording studio that allowed the Texas-bred singer to tap into his sound the way he hears it in his head, free from the expectations of others. “It definitely felt the most liberating to me,” he says of the process. “I was just able to be myself and let go of any inhibitions and create without any boundaries.” The songs born of those sessions—produced by Ricky Reed and Nate Mercereau—became Gold-Diggers Sound and some of Bridges’ most refined work. He rose to fame through his ’50s and ’60s soul stylings, but the R&B contained within this album situates its nostalgia in a more modern context, bridging ’80s and ’90s R&B with lush, jazz-inspired live instrumentation. His writing coupled with his voice has long been the centerpiece, but hearing both in this context is to experience them anew. “When you look at Gold-Diggers Sound, a lot of these songs were derived from improvisational jams,” Bridges says. “Back to the basics of musicians in a room and creating music from the ground up.” Here he walks through each song on the album. “Born Again” “‘Born Again’ is a song that transpired out of the pandemic. Pretty much everything on Gold-Diggers Sound was born within the Gold-Diggers space, but this is one that happened after the fact. Basically, Ricky Reed was doing this livestream series where he would produce a song live. He sent me an instrumental, and he wanted me to write something to it and send it in the next day, so I was stressing out like crazy because I just couldn't think of what to write about. I woke up that morning and the song came to me. I wanted to make it parallel to the concept of spiritual newness within a gospel context or within the Bible, but I take that concept and just talk about how I felt during the pandemic and how the pandemic was very healing for me. I felt like this song was a great opener for the album, and it totally sets the mood.” “Motorbike” “The instrumental of ‘Motorbike’ was already something that my friend Nate Mercereau was working on, and it resonated with me, and everyone else during the session just kind of slept on it. I went out to Puerto Rico for my 30th birthday, and I was able to spend that time with some of my best friends, and there was just so much camaraderie and love in that moment. I wanted to take that feeling of just living in the moment and escaping with someone you love, and so that's kind of what 'Motorbike' is.” “Steam” “This is almost reminiscent of a Talking Heads kind of thing. 'Steam' is one of the first songs that we worked on for this album. It's like a vibe of being at the party and the party gets cut short, and you want to prolong the hang, and so the best thing to do is just bring it on back to the hotel for the after-party.” “Why Don’t You Touch Me” “Shout-out to the undefeated, badass songwriter Kaydence. This was a tune that we worked on remotely during the pandemic and just felt like it was a cool angle to write about love diminishing in a relationship from a man's perspective. And just the crippling feeling of being physically close to someone but emotionally distant. It's an angle that you don't really hear often from a man's perspective, and so that's kind of the inspiration behind that.” “Magnolias” “I immediately was pigeonholed after my first album, and the more I continue to create, I want to be honest about the music that inspires me. I love the juxtaposition of that beautiful acoustic guitar with the more trap, modern R&B thing. My mother always used to encourage me to write a song about this magnolia tree that was in her backyard. And so I kind of took that and shaped the lyrics around it. In my head, as far as the chorus, it felt like this is how Sade would sing it in terms of that melody. That probably doesn't make sense, but it made sense in my head at the time.” “Gold-Diggers (Junior’s Fanfare)” “Shout-out to Ricky Reed for curating some really awesome horn players. I mean, you got Josh Johnson and Keyon Harrold, and with the inception of this album, I wanted to do a progressive sound but also keep it rooted with some organic elements. And so I felt it was important to have jazz interwoven throughout all of this album. It's a really awesome interlude, and it's something that you don't really hear a lot within the R&B space.” “Details” “‘Details’ is about learning to appreciate the small things. It's the little details that paint the big picture.” “Sho Nuff” “For ‘Sho Nuff,’ I wanted to take a page out of Houston culture. I love when you look at artists like UGK—I love the fact that those guys incorporated soul music within their songs. And so that guitar part is definitely reminiscent of that. I wanted to have this very minimalistic, soulful guitar and juxtapose that with a sexy vibe.” “Sweeter” “Throughout my career, I've always been scrutinized for not making political music, and I've kind of sat with that for a long time. I just didn't want to half-ass it. So this is a moment where Terrace Martin jumped off a session with these crazy chords. And for me, the chords or whatever's happening in the music always dictates what the song is about. As soon as he started playing that, I knew immediately this was the moment for 'Sweeter.' We wrote this prior to the situation of George Floyd, but it's reflective of the perpetual narrative of Black men dying at the hands of police. We had been sitting on this song for a while, and I was planning to release a tune with my friend Lucky Daye and we kind of put that on the back burner. But after George Floyd, I was totally compelled to just put this out in the world in hopes it would serve as the beacon of light and hope.” “Don’t Worry” “‘Don't Worry’ is kind of a stream of thoughts to myself, reminiscing about a past lover and who she's currently with. Shout-out to my friend Ink, who is the singer-songwriter from Atlanta, and she embodies this country-hood type of vibe. Her energy is so infectious. I mean, she literally walks into the studio every day with cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and then just like brings this really awesome energy to the music—that's kind of how 'Don't Worry' came about.” “Blue Mesas” “This whole album encapsulates the multifaceted aspects of life. It's not serious all the time, but sometimes there are those moments that capture the struggle, and that's what it was for me. 'Blue Mesas' just talks about the moment when I transitioned into fame, and it was honestly hard for me. When you take an insecure person and put them in the limelight, some people can tend to fold or thrive. I'm grateful that I had great people around me to help me get through those struggles. 'Blue Mesas' is just like that feeling of the solitude and weight that comes with having a little notoriety and still feeling isolated—even in the midst of people that love you.”

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