Downloaded Jeff Bridges Self-Titled Album this morning, and, since it's a pretty short one, I listened to all of it on the way to work.
Now, to be fair, I was very, very taken with Bridges performance in Crazy Heart (as I am with almost every acting job he does) , and really loved his musical performances in that film, and on the soundtrack (which is phenomenal, BTW). No, he doesn't have a perfect voice, or tremendous vocal range, but his voice was authentic, and felt right for an artist like "Bad" Blake in the film. The same can be said for this album.
If you watched Crazy Heart, and just kept saying to yourself, "he can't sing," well...First, I think you're dead wrong, and second, don't even bother with this album.
It should also be said that Bridges has a long history with music. He and his brother, Beau, have apparently been writing songs together for years. Bridges has songwriting credit for two tracks on this set.
Bridges, as a music artist, is clearly in the vein of the old-time country troubadours, your Johnny Cash, your Waylon Jennings. Now, I am NOT saying he's as good as those legends, but that's clearly the vein in which Bridges, and producer T-Bone Burnett are working in. I also felt a very strong similarity to the work of Tom Waits. There's a very loose, shambling feel to a lot of the numbers that is in that Waits realm, and Bridges voice tends toward that growling baritone.
the Waits similarity is really pronounced in the Bridges-penned tracks, especially "Tumbling Vine." It really struck me several times that I'd like to hear Bridges take a shot at Waits' "Grapefruit Moon," or "Rosie." There's that same sort of world-weary, but sharp vibe. The big difference between the two is that Bridges wins on the sincerity scale. I LOVE Tom Waits, but you do often get the feeling that the whole thing is an act, a bit of a joke on his audience. I love him for that, the sense that he's a puzzle to be deconstructed, but Bridges, almost to a fault, makes you feel like you're getting something real.
Maybe that's because he's a genius-level actor. Who knows? I do know that I felt like I was getting material that either came from, or touched, in the case of songs written by others, Bridges' heart.Of particular note is "The Quest," which really hit me as I rode the train to work today. It's a wonder that someone as accomplished, and successful, as Bridges could connect with me on the constant need to accomplish...something. He did, however, in spades. It's a great song, but it is Bridges rough voice that brings it to life.
The first track, and the first single, "What a Little Bit of Love Can Do," is the most "commercial" track here. It moves, and it's bouncy and fun. Ryan Bingham provides backing vocals. Here's the video:
I really enjoyed this record.