Stephen Wyatt: The ghost of Otis Redding lurks in Leon Bridges’ “River” as the song opens, a haunting and visceral reflection on the pains of sin. Bridges laments, “Take me in your smooth waters / I go in / As a man with many cuts / As my sins flow down in the Jordan” as the chorus soars and the collection of voices echoing the ethos of negro spirituals. The song yields to Bridges’ voice and guitar, which exemplifies the power of stripped-down production and evades studio trickery. Heaven’s hymn spoken in a language often taken for granted by the throngs of contemporary R&B artists, Bridges resurrects the past in a language both refined and timeless. [10/10]
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Maria Schurr: As stellar of a song as this is, it also sounds like the first time that Harvey is repeating herself. It’s like a Let England Shake song with a change in location, married to the warped blues tone that Harvey’s so good at. Then again, Let England Shake was one of this century’s most powerful artistic achievements; even a retooling of it bodes well for the year in music and Harvey’s upcoming The Hope Six Demolition Project in particular. At the same time, it’s gritty enough to be something that will cause those who didn’t like Let England Shake to rave. Ultimately pretty damned satisfying. [8/10]
Steve Horowitz: Smooth—the title “Honey” is a good one for this tasty track. Of course it is honey being poured over a naked lover; so sweet, so sticky. The skin so…. yeah, you know. Sometimes a kiss is just not enough. The passions run hotter. Real life is messier than this, but a little imagination can make real life better. [7/10]
Timothy Gabriele: I’m guessing Pharrell’s major contribution is the beat, which is unspectacular, but this is a lyrical exercise anyway, a talent showcase. I usually don’t fall hard for these types of tracks unless the backing track is also pulling its weight. It can do so in a minimalist way (The Roots’ “Web” springs to mind), but I need something other than “Hey, this guy’s got a good flow.” A$AP Rocky is undeniably talented and has a number of rewind-worthy tracks, but this one’s a decent candidate for the dustbin. [4/10]
Acid folk musician Tom Wilson has created a number of albums under his Lee Harvey Osmond moniker and the latest, Beautiful Scars, is set for a March 25th US release, following its release in Canada last year. Beautiful Scars has already won numerous accolades and it’s just been announced that Wilson is up for a Juno award in the Contemporary Roots Album of the Year category. The album should find a lot of American success based on the “Oh the Gods - Where Our Hearts Remain”, which features dark, haunting grooves blended with low, raspy, whispery vocals that recall Alabama 3 at their very best. It’s a soulful, memorable song that “keeps burning in your head”.