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Leon Bridges Performs "Smooth Sailing" and "River" on 'Saturday Night Live'

by William Hoffman   Dec 6, 2015 13:53 PM EST

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Leon Bridges may have just gained a lot of new fans after last night's performance on Saturday Night Live, performing "Smooth Sailing" and "River" off his 2015 album, Coming Home.

In a lot of ways, Bridges is the perfect musical guest for SNL, he's unknown enough to make the variety show seem cool and he's mainstream enough to get wide appeal. Existing fans of the artist made a point to tune in and regular watchers were treated to Bridges' modern take on Sam-Cook style R&B.

Dressed in a fly-looking, faded, pinstriped, maroon suit with his pristine slick-backed hair, he took the stage starting off with the more up-beat, boogie tune, "Smooth Sailing." He looked a little nervous on the stage as his hands flailed about, not knowing where to place them -- on the mic, in the air, pointing to the crowd? But, aside from that negligible awkward stage presence, he was able to really drive home the song with his signature vocal style and some fun saxophone and guitar solos. Watch the first performance below.

Later on in the night, he came back with "River," the song that really better fits his performance style and accents his strengths. This time he was dressed in a stylish black tux jacket with a matching bow tie. The full band was stripped down to just Bridges with a guitar, a keyboardist, his touring backup vocalist and a small group of gospel singers. Bridges stays steady on the same guitar rhythm while he and the rest of the singers calmly sing the R&B-gospel tune that closes out his album. Watch the performance below.

A couple of weeks back, Bridges performed on his biggest stage yet for the American Music Awards, as he accompanied Macklemore and Ryan Lewis as a featured guest in the premiere of the duo's new song, "Kevin," in which the R&B singer takes the lyrically heavy chorus.

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