Jeff Bridges - don't give up the day job
- Aug 30, 2011
Following on from the success of film Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges has taken another crack at making his own album. In the film he plays Otis ‘Bad’ Blake, a washed up country musician and Bridges won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal. In Crazy Heart he sings pretty well and is convincing as a grizzled old star of the genre.
This is his second album to date; the first named ‘Be Here Soon’ was released in 2000 and went relatively unnoticed – this one may give us a reason or two though. For those who thought to expect some Crazy Heart like country loops, you will be disappointed. The country twang of the pedal steel is an ever present but this is a more introspective set from the Hollywood star.
Early on we get some stock middle aged bluesy type tunes, new single and opener ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ gives us exactly what you would expect from an ageing star being patronised by a record company. It’s slow with steady feel and Bridges' vocals are distinctive but not unpleasant – it’s not exactly announcing itself on the scene with great fanfare but it has a certain charm.
An interesting point is that Bridges is only accredited with writing three of the album’s ten songs and it is one of these that stands out immediately. ‘Falling Short’ seems a little out of place when you first come across it, preconceptions may have you nodding when you hear the opener but coming right behind it is this odd effort, almost muscling in uninvited.
It is has dreamlike quality to it, a kind of drifting feel that has you wondering when you are going to wake. The back-up vocals of Sam Phillips complement Bridges gravelly drawl and there is a background of marching drums. The chorus suggests a take-off but it continually returns to the dreamlike state, which is altogether refreshing.
There is something strange about this song but it is a welcome respite from the run of the mill pop country that the majority of the album is made up of. Typical of this is ‘Everything Buy Love’ that has an almost pointless air to it, giving us nothing but the feeling of background music for a scene at a bar in a film set somewhere in America’s southern states.
Leaden and unimaginative lyrics like “you can have everything/but it won’t be enough/if you have everything but love” almost induce anger at their overwhelming blandness. Songs of this ilk are ten to the penny on the record and you feel like there hasn’t been much of an effort to back up the selling of Bridges as a celebrity with some quality music.
The saving grace of this album is the songs Bridges pens himself – ‘Tumbling Vine’ has a tinge of 60s psychedelic to it and sounds as though it could have been written by The Coral. Jeff is known to have an interest in Buddhism and, according to reports, he meditates every day. You can see this influence here, with a line saying “I’m Buddhistly bent” giving some quirky pleasure.
‘Either Way’ and ‘The Quest’ accompany us to the end in a depressingly familiar manner, forcing a conclusion of feeling unfulfilled and wishing Bridges had been given more opportunity to put forward his own efforts. The record provides one or two sparks of something different and a brief moving away from the stock nothing country that rules over most of it.
The overriding feeling from this is ‘what’s the point?’ and it is difficult to find one other than try and use Bridges’ kudos as one of the few likeable stars in Hollywood. There is evidence that he may be able to create something unique if he genuinely goes it alone in the songwriting department, but this latest try falls short on charisma.
The one redeeming feature is Bridges voice; so brilliantly harnessed for his Oscar winning role and will always give a semblance of pleasure but it doesn’t quite outweigh general disappointment the self-named album induces. Don’t go giving up the day job or anything though Jeff – a lacklustre, meandering and pointless effort.