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Album Review
Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges
by Jeff Bridges

Blue Note

Review Date
13th September 2011
Reviewed by
Jennifer Kirby

Perhaps this is what winning an Oscar does to you. Actors, they say, become immersed in their characters to the point that they actually live them. This commonly held truth about actors is usually not taken to quite such a literal extreme as in the case of Jeff “the dude” Bridges. Following his Oscar-winning role as a country singer in 2009’s Crazy Heart, life seems to be imitating art for this iconic actor with the release of his debut album. I have to confess a certain degree of scepticism about this album prior to listening, but Bridges has chosen some experienced and skilled collaborators and displays, if not a particularly stunning voice, a strong feeling for a good song.

The album is produced by T Bone Burnett who worked on the music for Crazy Heart as well as numerous other soundtracks and albums by respected artists. If you want Country/Roots/Americana, he’s generally the man to go to. His production is, as always, impeccable, especially on the slow-burning Blue Car with its building piano melody and steady beat which seems to worm itself into your head. The haunting Slow Boat is another clear masterpiece of production and song-writing. Other guests on the album include Roseanne Cash and Ryan Bingham who sang and co-wrote (with Burnett) the Oscar-winning song The Weary Kind for Crazy Heart. These artists lend Bridges a respect and credibility that he may have otherwise been seen to be lacking and their presence is welcome.

Although Bridges only wrote or co-wrote three songs, the record is relatively coherent with several songs reflecting on the nature of life and mistakes made in one’s life. It feels like the album of a mature artist looking back over life so far and what he’s learned along the way. Two of Bridge’s own compositions, Falling Short and Tumbling Vine, are especially poignant in their picture of a man who has fallen but been given a second chance. In general, the songs Bridges wrote himself are in fact the best tracks. It is curious then that there are so few of them. Perhaps on future albums, Bridges will be more confident in presenting his own songs. This is not to say that the songs selected for the album written by others are not good. On the contrary, there are some very strong songs here. However, the personal, intimate feel of Bridges’ own compositions is appealing and it would be great to see this talent developed.

Bridges’ voice sounds appropriately worn and weary, but his vocals become somewhat monotonous over the course of the album. He sings the songs with tenderness and feeling but without displaying any great vocal talent. He is not an undiscovered vocal genius, but then very few artists are.

Whether the actor will have a second career in music remains to be seen. There is promise in this album in terms of song writing and it is clear that Bridges is smart enough to find the best people to work with. The album is an enjoyable listen if you’re inclined towards country music, without being particularly life-changing or ground-breaking.


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