Album art: Zack Knudsen
Alison Dewar writes: Drake White describes his latest EP The Bridge (out today October 6) as ‘marking an era of self-re-discovery and purpose’.
It’s an interesting comment, perhaps the more so given that 2023 has seen him become a father for the first time and just reach his milestone 40th birthday.
Known to wear his heart on his sleeve, White says: “The Webster dictionary defines a bridge as a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle. This is the bridge taking me to back to why I started making music in the first place.”
And in many ways The Bridge does feel like a bit of a throwback to his 2016 Spark debut album. More mature (yes) but full of soulful simplicity and a change of gear from some (not all) of the rockier songs of late – I’m thinking in particular of tracks like American Thunder from 2022’s The Optimystic album.
It’s a very personal EP, Drake has co-written all seven tracks, co-produced four of them and solo produced three, all but one of which are the most recent releases.
So where does The Bridge take us to? It’s a journey that blends old and new, that reinvents and reinvigorates.
Of the seven songs, three have already appeared on previous albums, notably the opening track 50 Years Too Late, now repurposed as 50 Years Too Late (Ruff Cut). It’s a stripped back version and, when you close your eyes it’s almost as if Drake is standing right beside you…telling YOU the story, that’s how personal it feels.
Guaranteed to get temperatures rising is Making’ Me Look Good Again (Wedding Version) a reimagined acoustic version of the song which first appeared on Spark. Just the guitar intro will get the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, while the rawness of White’s voice provides sharp contrast to the beauty of the solo guitar notes. This is 3.57 minutes of pure bliss and a stunning addition to the playlist for any upcoming nuptials.
Completing the trio of ‘new/old’ songs, GRAMMY-winning artist Colbie Caillat brings her own incredible touch to a special rendition of Power of a Woman. This has become one of Drake’s anthem songs, written to celebrate all strong women – most notably of course his wife Alex – and singing this together with Colbie dials it up 100 degrees.
One of the new songs on the EP, Turn You On, comes courtesy of (former) country singer-songwriter Maren Morris, who coincidentally also released her own EP called The Bridge last month.
Turn You On is a co-write with both her husband Ryan Hurd and Drake, and it’s a touching and heartfelt love letter of a song about needing to hit the pause button and make time for each other – another one for the lovers of this world. I love the line, ‘Let the silence be our soundtrack’, wise words in a busy, non-stop life.
Two recent releases Spirit and Ladder To The Sky gain their EP colours too. The first, co-written with Leslie Satcher and former Big Fire band member Phil Pence, brings a touch of melancholy as it tells the story of a travelling man on the road. A round of applause for a very welcome fiddle and slide guitar on the EP and check out this YouTube acoustic version recorded at The Bluestone earlier this summer.
Ladder To The Sky is unmistakably a Drake song, you could pick it out a mile away. Brought beautifully to life with simple guitar strums from bandmate Devin Trout, this is a soul-searching story of reaching into the unknown, of freedom and learning to trust the path ahead. As Drake says: “I’m guilty of always pushing to what’s next. This is to remind me that we control very little in this life. Just keep climbing, and you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.”
Rounding off the EP in fine style is Happy Hour – a duet written with Hayes Carll – which manages to be both a new song and an ‘old’ song, having first appeared on Hayes’ 2022 album You Get It All (Deluxe Version).
As you would expect, Drake brings a more soulful approach, giving us a great upbeat and catchy fun track about talking dogs, Spiderman and super-powers, plus a great outro pay-off line ‘Who says happy only gets to last an hour?’. I think we’d all agree with that sentiment.
Download The Bridge from all the usual streaming sites and make your own happy hour last a whole lot longer. For more on Drake White, visit https://www.drakewhite.com/
Track List for Drake White’s ‘The Bridge’:
1. “50 Years Too Late (Ruff Cut)” (Leith Loftin, Drake White) ^
2. “Spirit” (Drake White, Phil Pence, Leslie Satcher) +
3. “Power of a Woman (ft. Colbie Caillat)” (Kelli Johnson, Lindsey Hinkle, Drake White) ^
4. “Makin’ Me Look Good Again (Wedding Version)” (Drake White, Monty Criswell, Shane Minor) ^
5. “Turn You On” (Maren Morris, Ryan Hurd, Drake White) *
6. “Ladder To The Sky” (Drake White, Vanessa Olivarez, Andy Skib) *
7. “Happy Hour” (Drake White, Hayes Carll) *
* produced by Drake White
^ produced by Drake White and Graham Mallany
+ produced by Drake White and Matthew Ridenour