Leon Bridges' music hearkens back to the soul of old: He may be a charismatic singer in his 20s, but his music draws on a crisply appointed, pure, decades-old sound. But watch the new video for his song "River," and it's clear that Bridges has his eye fixed on the present, as well. Filled with images from the recent Baltimore Uprising, the footage here makes it clear that the singer's understanding of soul's past doesn't stop with a look or a sound.
"A river has historically been used in gospel music as symbolism for change and redemption," Bridges writes via email. "My goal was to write a song about my personal spiritual experience. It was written during a time of real depression in my life, and I recall sitting in my garage trying to write a song which reflected this struggle. I felt stuck working multiple jobs to support myself and my mother. I had little hope and couldn't see a road out of my reality. The only thing I could cling to in the midst of all that was my faith in God and my only path towards baptism was by way of the river.
"When thinking about how to best visually represent this universal battle, I reflected on the depiction of black communities in our media and particular experiences within my own life. This video showcases the unique struggle many black men and women face across this country. However, unlike the captured images which tend to represent only part of the story, I wanted to showcase that through all the injustice, there's real hope in the world.
"I want this video to be a message of light. I believe it has the power to change and heal those that are hurting."
"River" appears on Leon Bridges' 2015 album, Coming Home.