Leon Bridges grew up listening to Usher, but his music suggests influences a generation removed. The Texas singer pairs irresistible pop charm with tightly-executed song structures. But his throwback act is no mere nostalgia trip. In fact, Bridges explains in our interview that he never intended to write soul music. He grew up a voracious and diligent listener, drawing as much from the neo-soul of Ginuwine as from the guitar work of Crosby, Still & Nash. Singers overshadowed by the likes of Sam Cooke — Arthur Alexander, Roy C. — were central to his musical education. It was only after he had written many of his best songs that friends noted echoes of the past.