Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, “Texas Sun” (Dead Oceans)
Psychedelic funk meets vintage R&B at the crossroads of soul on “Texas Sun,” the collaborative EP from the Houston native trio Khruangbin and Fort Worth, Texas’ own Leon Bridges. Together, the singer and the trio of musicians — bassist Laura Lee, guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson — meld their sound for four tracks of pure bliss.
The collaboration works exceptionally well, with both parties maintaining their unique styles while sharing the spotlight. That’s certainly the case on “Midnight,” with Bridges’ old-school vocals melting like butter over Khruangbin’s spaced-out strings and cowbell. “Midnight black on the outside… I remember how it was back then, we were just young ones,” Bridges sings, reminiscing on young romance.
It’s worth noting that while Bridges is the guy with the microphone, Khruangbin does plenty in terms of leading the way. The band lays down 20 seconds of exotic instrumentation before Bridges ever croons a word on the sexy, playful track “C-Side.” The band also deserves special recognition for (somehow) capturing a big country energy with world music bones on the EP’s title track.
Together, Bridges and Khruangbin specialize in serving up the unexpected. Their song “Conversion” borrows from the church hymn "At the Cross,” and finds Bridges singing some of the traditional lyrics alongside his own confession: “I was chained to my sin/I was lovin’, evil deeds in the dark/I was huggin’ them tight.”
“Texas Sun” is a perfect EP — as unboxed and beautiful as the state’s big sky.