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Jeff Bridges by Jeff Bridges

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Well, you know Eddie Murphy’s girl wanted to party all the time and you’ve seen all them White Actors mutilating the blues.  You don’t even have to be that good an actor to bullshit your way through a verse or two.  Ya wiggle your ass in front of a camera, ya wiggle your ass on stage.  What’s the difference, right?

Right.  But, I tell ya, I really wanted to like Jeff Bridges’ self-titled album.  I mean, I just got the vibe at first that this was a sincere project, not some vanity thing.  And maybe it was.  But it’s damn hard to tell.  Was he trying to sell himself as Bad Blake, the washed-up country singer he played in the 2009 flick Crazy Heart?  I mean, he only wrote or co-wrote three of the ten tracks on this album, which tells me this might be a guy who wanted people to do the work for him.  Someone else writes and arranges the stuff, he sings and maybe plays a few notes.  But you really can’t do this kind of thing on vacations between movies.

Actually it’s pretty cool that Bridges and his cohorts seem to have invented their own music genre: lounge country-blues.  It’s interesting because it reminds you of another musician that Jeff Bridges played: Jack Baker, from The Fabulous Baker Boys.  Jack Baker really did play lounge tunes.  Then, of course there’s the whole 1970’s country vibe from Crazy Heart.  It’s a cool innovation, but not in a good way.  This thing is definitely too cool.  It’s just trying so hard to lift that groovy jazzman vibe.  You got a sad, raspy, that voice almost whispers lyrics that you can’t understand for all the mumbling.  The album wants to be blues, it wants to be old-school country.  Hell, this album wishes it was Tom Waits.

Another problem is that this album wants to come off as real Serious Stuff.  It beats the shit out of you with Seriously Grave Important Stuff.  And once you’ve soothed the mallet sores on your head, you kind of want to back away and say something like, “Yeah.  Serious Stuff.  I get it.”  Then, of course, you move on to something else.

I don’t mind depressing tunes or songs with a serious side as long as they’re not dull.  I mean, at least keep it interesting, right?  This kind of stuff, this mishmash of Americana styles, is damn hard to pull off and maybe we should give Jeff Bridges props simply for trying something new. But there’s something about this music being approached as a side project, between movie gigs or whatever, that really grates at me.  Is this just another acting gig?  It’s like the Zen Bubba always says, “Ain’t no way to fake good music.  You gotsta be the music.

Well, one thing’s for sure: Jeff Bridges ain’t Bruce Willis, that hokeyman blues huckster.  But the problem is I’m not sure how different they really are.

Author: Pat King, Special to CC2K

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