File under we’re not surprised, but we’re still tickled: Actor/sometime musician Jeff Bridges has inked a recording deal with Blue Note Records, which will release his major-label debut album in late summer. (Not coincidentally, Bridges is Esquire magazine’s cover boy for the May Music issue, pictured, hitting newsstands April 26.)
The not-surprised part: Bridges’ Best Actor Oscar-winning role as a grizzled country singer searching for meaning and sobriety played so true, it was almost unsettling. He’ll re-up the collaboration that made Crazy Heart so special by working on the album with T-Bone Burnett. Burnett’s credits don’t stop: The songwriter/musician/producer has fistloads of Grammys, has worked with everyone from Allison Krauss and Robert Plant to Elton John and Leon Russell and recent sensation the Secret Sisters. Plus he’s the mastermind behind the award-winning soundtracks to O Brother, Where Are Thou? and Walk the Line.
Burnett even selected the songs that appeared on the soundtrack to the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, one of Bridges’ career high points. It doesn’t hurt that the pair go back a ways: Bridges and Burnett met more than 30 years ago when Kris Kristofferson introduced them during the filming of the 1980 motion picture Heaven’s Gate. “It’s a relationship that’s really inflamed my music,” Bridges has said of his friendship with Burnett. (Fun fact: The actor originally turned down the role in Crazy Heart, because there was no music in it. When Burnett came on board, that’s when Bridges signed on.)
The album already has some castmembers in place, like rep player Marc Ribot and guest vocalists Rosanne Cash, Sam Phillips and Benji Hughes. As for the material, Bridges will cover songs by some favorites (Tom Waits is on the list) as well as some of his own original compositions.