Album: Blak and Blu
Artist: Gary Clark, Jr.
Details: 13 songs; 1 Hour 7 minutes
Who’s Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation
Hearing the opening horns on Gary Clark Jr.’s Blak and Blu, I pretty much was sold. But that song wasn’t what the album was all about. The Dap Kings brassy sound was there for Ain’t Messin Around, but Clark plays around with all sorts of styles on this album that came out in 2012. Overall, the album has energy, and I predict that his energy is exponential when he is on stage. I am happy to report that Dan and I share enthusiasm for this album. He does a great job of writing what it is like to come across music that makes you want to go out and be the band’s promoter.
I had not heard of Gary Clark, Jr. until last week when I chose the album. This summer I am going to attend my first big deal music festival and I am prepping by getting familiar with some of the acts that I don’t know. Mr. Clark earned a place in my line-up.
There are so many personalities at play here. He will do a song like Travis County that has Chuck Berry piano banging and guitar picking. He gets his Marvin Gaye falsetto going on Please Come Home that has girls singing the “oo-oo’s” in the background. Next Door Neighbor Blues is recorded in a style that harkens to an old Muddy Waters recording complete with some foot stomping. And when he rocks his guitar on a few of the songs, it is Woodstock Hendrix.
I like it best, I think, when Clark is singing the blues like he does in Bright Lights Big City. Listening, you can easily envision him performing this song. As you should for any blues song worth its salt, you feel his pain. He has this emotion-packed vocal delivery that is slow and steady. Then this chorus of guitars jams and sings the response to his vocals. This is sit-with-a-sweaty-beer-and-close-your-eyes-and-rock-to-the-beat music. He finishes that song with the line “you gonna know my name by the end of the night.” Truth.
Like George Michael’s Symphonica, this is a long album – over an hour, with most of the songs passing the five minute mark. He fills those minutes with masterful guitar work and other musicians who also bring their game. This is not a style of album that would tend to get heavy rotation for me, but he holds great appeal for me as a live act.
Next Up: Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated