Jeff Bridges takes his 'Crazy Heart' crooner into the studio 

Jeff Bridges’ turn as washed-up country star Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart” was so believable, it won the actor an Oscar. It’s also earned him something else – an actual recording contract with Blue Note/EMI Music, who will release his as-yet-untitled album later this year. And – quite logically – the project re-teams him with the man who oversaw the “Crazy Heart” film soundtrack, the Grammy-winning T-Bone Burnett. And if you heard Bridges’ gruff, gravelly singing on said soundtrack, you should be very interested, indeed, in a collaboration of this caliber; the man can actually croon.

Of course, the cutout bins are littered with thespians who thought they could rock (paging Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon and Bruce Willis!). But Burnett buttressed Bridges with great players like Marc Ribot, Dennis Crouch, Keefus Ciancia and Jay Bellerose, then added vocal cameos from Rosanne Cash, Benji Hughes and his ex-missus Sam Phillips. The songs are a nice grab bag of originals and chestnuts from Tom Waits, Greg Brown and the late Stephen Bruton (who also conjured up some Bad Blake material). Bridges first met Burnett over 30 years ago on the set of “Heaven’s Gate,” when they were introduced by mutual friend Kris Kristofferson. The friendship continued through films like “The Big Lebowski,” for which Burnett chose the songs.

Bridges is currently gracing the cover of Esquire magazine’s new music Issue; for more, log on to www.jeffbridges.com.

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Tom Lanham

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