If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its 6 year history, you’d know that I’ve written quite a bit about Brooklyn-based soul singer, Charles Bradley. And with the release of his first two critically applauded albums No Time For Dreaming and Victim of Love, a documentary about his life Charles Bradley: Soul of America, and an incredibly heartfelt and powerful live show (along with a relentless touring schedule) that has lead him and his various backing bands to playing some of world’s biggest and most renowned festivals and venues, Bradley has become not just a JOVM mainstay but an international sensation.
Bradley’s third full-length effort Changes was released earlier this year and the album was named after Bradley’s popular and achingly soulful cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Changes” with Daptone Records labelmates The Budos Band, which was initially released as a Record Store Day 45 vinyl record a few years ago. Changes‘ second single “Change For The World” was Bradley’s heartfelt, earnest and urgent plea to the listener that that we need to stop hiding behind hate, divisiveness and religion and learn how to truly love one another with open hearts, minds and arms. Perhaps if we all listened to Mr. Bradley, the world would be in much better shape, huh?
Interestingly, Changes‘ third full-single “Good To Be Back Home” has Bradley at his most pensive, as he reflects on the emotional and spiritual whirlwind of his life over the past 6 years, a period that has seen him become an internationally recognized artist playing in front of adoring crowds all over the world and the death of his mother among other things. And as a result the song manages to be one of the more ambivalent songs Bradley has ever released as the song is both a triumphant and weary — triumphant in the fact that the song’s narrator can admit pride over being able to perform in front of adoring crowds but wearying in the fact that he’s hurt over the death of his mother, and there’s the subtle implication that no matter how successful you could be, you still somehow wind up alone. Perhaps Thomas Wolfe was right, you could never go back home again, as there’s a point in which you’ve changed way too much — or things have changed to the point that it doesn’t resemble anything you remember. Sonically speaking, the song continues along the path of its preceding singles as the single leans towards psychedelic soul — in particular think of The Temptations “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,“ James Brown‘s “The Payback” and others as it’s a slow-burning and moody song.
The recently released music video is shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white and splits its time between footage of Charles Bradley and the Extraordaires performing on stage in front of adoring crowds, giving hugs to fans, pensively walking through his Brooklyn neighborhood and hanging out at home. The video arguably gives the most complete picture of Bradley as a public figure and everyday person.