LEON BRIDGES & KHRUANGBIN REIMAGINE A “TEXAS SUN”
By Sound Check
December 3, 2019
We’ve all heard the bumper-sticker philosophy that “Everything is bigger in Texas” — physically, spiritually, musically, emotionally — and that includes the distances. But if you process only one thing from the new collaboration between Leon Bridges (representing Ft. Worth) and the band Khruangbin (Houston), let it be that the open spaces between separate parts of Lone Star mythologies are both real and imagined. And the twang of “Texas Sun,” the first fruit of a seemingly unlikely artistic alliance, is a symbolic embodiment of that contradiction.
Bridges is a great young soul-music classicist and AFROPUNK fave. While Khruangbin is an instrumental trio that somehow combines modern blues changes and Thai-pop melodicism into locked pockets of groove that make them sound as skin-tight as The Meters. So, where does the country-soul open road of “Texas Sun” fit in? Maybe it’s due the fact that in this state, more than anywhere else, country music and rhythm & blues never really separated — and that the foreign cultural elements in Texas (and Houston is the most diverse metropolitan area in America) are integrated into the state’s fables. There is a world between Bridges’ croon of taking his lover out on the open road (the way any million previous country songs have), and guitarist Mark Speer’s Austin-pedal-steel-meets-Bangok-stripclub tone. But they also both plug into the same transcendent language, because sometimes bigger means all-encompassing.