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Gary Clark Jr. – Black and Blu

October 26, 2012

Gary Clark Jr. has been extensively hyped for the last couple years – so this album comes with great expectations.  Clark has the chops (a guitar hero), the voice (in multiple dimensions) , the geography (Austin Texas), and the looks.  He has been hailed as the savior of the blues.  In short, the weight of the world is on him.

What I like is he is not a purest – he is equally comfortable in a Hendrix-styled blues rock freak-out as he is with John Legend hip-pop.  As a cherry on the top he can throw a little Sam Cook soul pop in for good measure.

Clark has been honing this collection of songs for several years, on live cuts, on EPs, and on independent releases – this is his first proper major label album.  Of the 15 songs on the deluxe edition, nine have appeared in some form on earlier releases over the last 8 years.

So how is the music? It is very good.  I am struggling with the diversity.  I just said I liked that he is not a purest, that is true and I like every song – it is just that this is not an album – it is a portfolio: a sample of all that Clark is capable of.  Each song is brilliant alone, but together they are a bit jarring.  It is like picking up a tasteful music head’s iPod and putting it on shuffle – you won’t hear a bad song, but you would rather pick the music-head’s curated playlist. I have a bias toward albums, but I have to remind myself that Clark comes from a singles era – from a shuffle era – so maybe the diversity won’t be so challenging to a younger audience.

If you are a fan of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Legend, D’Angelo, Sam Cooke, The Black Keys, Neil Yong with Crazy Horse,  The rocking side of Prince, bluesy Beck, etc. this collection of songs will appeal to you.  This guy can do it all and that is both good and bad.

On a personal note, Gary Clark Jr. will always be connected to Jim Graybill (RIP).  I did not know Jim well, he was my brother-in-law’s little brother.  As fellow music-head, we enjoyed each others company at family events – a little oasis at a kid’s birthday party.  Anyway, Jim passed prematurely (merely 50) last Saturday and he was in great expectation of this album. He had pre-ordered it and hyped it to anyone who would listen.  Unfortunately he passed early in the morning of the day it showed up in his mailbox.  So Jim I hope you are in a heavenly club listening to Jimi, Stevie Ray, and Duane live.  I hope the whiskey never runs dry and the cigars are always fresh.


From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. Axl,

    There are no words…

    Such a beautiful piece in so many ways.

    Thank you

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