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Gary Clark Jr. – This Land

March 3, 2019

Gary Clark Jr. has got it all: Texas guitar gunslinger, great voice, songwriter, musician, performer, the look, married to a super model and a nice little career on the edge of the star making machine beholden to no one. Thus, he guiltlessly spills out genres: blues, rock, soul, reggae and hip hop. He refuses to be pigeonholed as a guitar god or submit to the blues police. Each of his studio LPs tends to be a wonderful hot mess – driving the blues purists crazy and keeping it interesting for the rest of us.

This Land continues Clark’s tradition of the brilliant hodgepodge. Like Hendrix, at his core, Clark is a bluesman. Again like Jimi, he refuses to be a slave to the blues. The blues are merely a point of reference for their genre bending explorations.

This may be my favorite Gary Clark Jr. album. This LP is all over the map: classic rock, the blues, R&B, punk, reggae, Prince and hip hop infused neo-soul. Despite the stylistic chaos there is cohesion. That cohesion is the total persona of Gary Clark Jr. He has become a rock star. No simple accomplishment in these times.

The coolest thing Clark does is that he’s an old school rock star with a complete and total understanding of hip hop. A man of his times, this is a serious artistic statement. A dude on top of his game.  This Land has the similar ambition as D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

Clark gets political at times, but what do you expect from an African-American rock star?  Silence would be inappropriate.

Oh and the guitar playing, it is superb as expected. The innovation is that the guitar playing is in total support of the song. The guitar never overpowers – save that shit for the live show. The production is pretty solid too. Clark’s secret ingredient is his singing voice. He is an extremely gifted vocalist with a wide range of textures. It is easy to forget the voice, given the guitar, but it is just as big of a deal.

This is going to be a top-ten 2019 album for me.  Can’t wait to see this new stuff live when he visits my town (Surly Brewing Festival Field Minneapolis/St.Paul) on a hot August Friday night.


From → Music Reviews

  1. Heard the name never the music. Pretty high praise. Guess I better give him a spin.

  2. He’s damn good. He used to play a lot in his native Fort Worth up until a year ago. Touring keeps him away from home.

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