Smooth Sailin’ – Leon Bridges

It’s no surprise that Leon Bridges draws comparisons of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Or that his largest listening-base is in London. (Those Brits are fairly soulful, after all.)

My craving for modern soul always leads me down interesting paths, and it caused me to knock on Leon Bridge’s door, seeking reprieve from the Twenty One Pilot’s of the world.

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Bridges is only 26, and his maturity both as an individual and a musician, greatly predates his current generation. Even in interviews, his demeanor is relaxed, respectful and open.

He’s taken an interesting stance on his sound, though. Bridges has been quoted as saying that he thinks he was born in the right generation. He understands that it’s his throwback sound that draws attention now, whereas in the 50s or 60s, he’d probably get swallowed up in the sea of soulful musicians.

“Smooth Sailin'” boogies the way an old Stax-produced track would. It’s a refreshing pick-me-up in the recent trend of moody, echoey, beat-laden tracks.

I can see Bridges forming himself as less of a breakout mainstream artist, and more of an under-the-radar artist that sticks around for awhile, like The Gaslight Anthem. Substance is the name of the game when it comes to this young, striking musician.

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O Mother – Son Little

Can I love the world and hate how it makes me feel?

I truly don’t know how to accurately describe the beauty this song conveys both in lyrics and visuals. It’s so chill, but filled with so much emotion. As a black man in America, Son Little (Aaron Livingston) is speaking directly to the issues that are constantly swirling and striking.

Hearing what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York, Little felt compelled to write a song speaking to the pain he feels at the hands of others.

He took inspiration from Marvin Gaye’s song, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” according to The New Yorker, and extended the conversation through to a more intimate approach.

The video is mixed with stunning images of caged wolves and a sleeping Son Little. The song is a beautiful blend of vintage soul and a modern, lamenting consciousness.

Better known for his song, “The River,” Son Little is in the midst of his first headlining tour, hitting cities and villes such as Boston, Nashville and Chicago.  Little may still be unfamiliar for many listeners, but he’s established himself at festivals like SXSW and with artists like The Roots.

Having lived in Los Angeles, New York and most recently, Philadelphia, Little is a man filled with awareness of the world around him, and he has a talent for presenting that to the audience in a way that’s truthful, but still palatable.

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What You Don’t Do – Lianne La Havas

I love having friends with impeccable music taste. It’s so easy to get into a rut, but when I see or hear something that one of my influencers is listening to, I’m immediately back on course.

Lianna La Havas’ song “What You Don’t Do,” really jumpstarted my morning.

It’s a soulful, upbeat track that reminds me of early 90’s Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. You may wonder when you hear Lianne’s voice why I compared it to those over-the-top divas, but it’s the beat and the instrumentation.

The background soars behind Lianne’s vocals, which only serves to uplift her incredible voice. This is the perfect track for driving in the car with friends and singing along together.

La Havas is impressive in any capacity, and her 2015 album Blood is a fantastic effort. Apparently, Havas traveled to Jamaica and used it as inspiration for the album, as well as using her Jamaican and Greek heritage as influencers.

She said in interviews that every song was written about family, and her love for the craft of the album shows.

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The Wedding War

Brandon and I agonized over the music selections for our wedding for MONTHS. We got married in October, so we knew that would have some effect on the music, as it was a large influence on the decorations. But the playlist was seriously the hardest part of the entire planning process. We have very different musical tastes, and the things he found exciting and humorous, I found tacky. The things I found kitschy and fun, he found annoying. A war was waged.

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FINALLY – we sucked it up and made a pretty interesting playlist. For which the DJ promptly ignored in lieu of playing SHITTY country music. We’ve since decided that if that’s the worst thing that happened on our wedding day, we’re pretty damned lucky. But you can’t blame a couple for trying. So, here, in all of it’s glory, is our INTENDED wedding playlist. (Grenades and gatling guns aside.)

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1. Left Hand Free – Alt J
2. XO – Beyonce
3. Around My Head – Cage the Elephant (The part where lead singer Matt says, “Can ya dig it” is my friend Jesse’s favorite lyric to emphasize when scream-singing along.)
4. Stay Alive – Jose Gonzalez (This was our reception entrance song.) This song was also featured in the movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which Brandon and I found enchanting. We always think of Ben Stiller longboarding through Iceland when we hear this.
5. Black or White – Michael Jackson
6. Santa Monica  – Everclear
7. Stand By Me – Ben E. King (Mother/groom dance.)
8. Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes (We liken aspects of our relationship to the one in Silver Linings Playbook. We already loved The White Stripes, but now this song took on a different meaning.)
9. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band (I do my best to not think of the time this song was featured in The Devils Rejects. *shudder)
10. Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
11. Cupid – Sam Cooke
12. Crossroads – Cream (My dad was obsessed with this song when I was growing up. It played on the stereo quite a bit.)
13. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
14. L.A. Woman – The Doors (Mr. Mojo Risin’ is my favorite part to chant over and over. My dad used to chant it as he worked in his garage.)
15. Cool Kids – Echosmith (I heard this song for the first time while I was in Drifters in Nashville visiting Jesse a few years ago. I brought it back home with me.)
16. Danger! High Voltage – Electric Six
17. Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
18. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers (Cassie and I belt this song together. She was my Maid of Honor, so this was dedicated to her.)
19. Anna Sun – Walk The Moon (Brandon and I have fantasies of being able to do the dance in this video. It still hasn’t happened.)
20. Heavy Bells – J Roddy Walston And The Business
21. The Passenger – Iggy Pop
22. Dancing On My Own – Robyn (I used to work at Torrid, and this song played all the time. I learned to love it through osmosis.)
23. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones (The phrase, “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was sang a lot as I was a kid.)
24. Sloppy Seconds – Watsky (The opening line made me leery, but Watsky is such a talent that we couldn’t skip him.)
25. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
26. My Generation – The Who
27. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
28. Always Alright – Alabama Shakes (Recessional song.)
29. The Man In Me – Bob Dylan (The Big Lebowski, anyone?)
30. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
31. Where the Wind Blows – Coco O.
32. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie, Q-Tip, GoonRock
33. Mae – The Gaslight Anthem (Processional song.)
34. You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash (Father/bride dance.) (I bawled like a baby when I listened to this, and I knew my dad and I had to dance to it.)
35. The Ghost Who Walks – Karen Elson (Jack White’s ex-wife is quite the talent. Another Third Man Records find.)
36. West Coast – Lana Del Rey
37. Call It What You Will – Larry and His Flask
38. I Am Not Willing – Moby Grape
39. I Love You More Than Words Can Say – Otis Redding (First dance song.)
40. Booty Swing – Parov Stelar
41. Rye Whiskey – Punch Brothers
42. Let Go – RAC, Kele, MNDR (Jarrett, who was my Man of Honor, introduced us to this song, and we couldn’t forget it.)
43. In the Jailhouse Now – The Soggy Bottom Boys (When we’re alone, Brandon sings this song. He does quite a good job.)
44. Atlantic City – The Band
45. Down in Mexico – The Coasters (Death Proof solidified this song for us.)
46. Nothing But a Heartache – The Flirtations
47. Bang Bang – will.i.am
48. Hello Operator – The White Stripes
49. When She Begins – Social Distortion
50. Ohio – The Black Keys
51. Just Got Paid – ZZ Top
52. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
53. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White
54. Fire – Jimi Hendrix
55. Gold and Warm – Bad Veins
56. On My Mind – New Found Glory
57. Harry Potter Soundtrack (Seating music before ceremony.) (We got more compliments on this choice than anything else on this playlist.Everyone LOVED hearing this when they entered the venue.)