Jeff Bridges

Be Here Soon

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Actors are frequently ridiculed when they turn to music, if for no other reason than it seems like a vanity project. In the case of Don Johnson, who cut a slick record designed for the charts at the peak of his fame in 1986, that may have been true, but it's hard to accuse Jeff Bridges of the same thing. For one thing, while he's always been a popular and acclaimed actor, he never reached a blazing moment in the sun, like Johnson did with Miami Vice -- a good thing, by the way. Also, Bridges released his first album, 2000's Be Here Soon, on an independent label called Ramp, and he worked with musicians, such as the underrated Michael McDonald, who could hardly be called trendy in 2000. All of these are reasons why it's not only hard to mock Bridges' foray into music, it's hard to dislike it too, providing that you already have a weakness for folk-rock, winding narrative songs, laid-back roots music, and soul-inflected pop. Musically, much of Be Here Soon comes off as a cross between Bob Dylan and Michael McDonald, yet Bridges winds up carving out a somewhat distinctive identity through his twisting lyrics and earnest singing. His voice can be a little thin on occasion, but it's always endearing, and there's a warm, welcoming vibe to the record -- the kind of music you'd expect a smarter, talented version of the Dude from The Big Lebowski to make. If that sounds glib, it's not meant to be, since that's the very pleasure of Be Here Soon -- it's natural, unaffected, and a little silly at times, but ultimately it charms through its strengths and weakness. You get to love the awkward moments along with the things that work, since they're what makes Be Here Soon a human record.

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