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Jeff Bridges earned an Academy Award for his portrayal of a down-and-out country singer in 2009’s Crazy Heart. Now he’s trying his hand at country music in real-life, as well.
Bridges will release his self-titled country album on Tuesday, Aug. 16 via Blue Note Records, marking his major label debut. His previous musical endeavor, Be Here Soon, was self-released in 2000.
The new album was produced by Crazy Heart songwriter/producer T-Bone Burnett and is already earning plenty of buzz. See what the music critics are saying in a few of the review excerpts below.
“The actor’s self-titled album is decidedly country, at once sad and hopeful, laced with heartfelt harmonies and slide guitars,” writes Sandy Cohen of the AP. “The Dude is a deep guy, but Bridges is at his best when he’s singing about love. He’s earnest on ‘Either Way,’ and downright heart-wrenching on ‘Everything But Love,’ singing, ‘The moon cries on the mountains/When it looks down from above/and it sees everything but love.’”
“Produced by T Bone Burnett, who shaped the sound and mood of Crazy Heart, [the album] can look from the outside like a mixture of a vanity project, a brand extension and some kind of fan fiction,” notes The New York Times’ Nate Chinen. “Mr. Bridges is hardly the first country singer to come across like someone playing a character, of course. And he does carry himself respectably. On ‘What a Little Bit of Love Can Do’ he brings rakish charm to a chorus that might have seemed conceited and belittling.”
“Recording in Brooklyn and L.A., Bridges is an actor who loves and suits country statesmanship. For this to be bad, it would have had to be … bad bad. He’d have to have shown up with a saddlebag full of meth and no songs and tortured his A-listers with high-priced pretentious cottage-recorded gibberish,” says Mark LePage of The Montreal Gazette. “And even when he does come close to that in ‘Slow Boat,’ which should be atmospheric and undercooked, he pulls it off. He is ruminative and regretful, burnished and sorrowful. His stories actually come across as being true.The Dude abides.”
Not all reviews were quite so kind, namely The Salt Lake Tribune’s David Burger, who headlined his story: “Jeff Bridges Should Stick to Acting.”
“[Bridges] should not win a Grammy for his self-titled debut album, which is nothing more than a dull, weak vanity project seeking to cash in on his recent popularity,” Burger writes. “The 61-year-old actor wrote two of the country-lite songs (and co-wrote another), but the overwhelming problem with the album is that Bridges has a weary, unemotional voice that is neither intriguing nor evocative.”
“It seems that modern country loves to start out with a good time before hitting us with loneliness and sorrow. Bridges takes that lesson a little too far this offering,” observes Iann Robinson of CraveOnline. “The songs on the record aren’t terrible, they just don’t work together. By the album’s finish you’ve forgotten what you heard and the energy is flat.”
Bridges receives the most praise for the album’s lead track and single, “What a Little Bit of Love Can Do,” and the least for “Blue Car,” which was described by Robinson as “the only out and out failure on [the album].”
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