Gary Jr. Clark - Blak and Blu

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    Gary Jr. Clark - Blak and Blu
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    Recording information: Can Am Studios, Tarzana, CA; Lightning Sound Studios, Hidden Hills, CA. Photographer: Frank Maddocks. Gary Clark, Jr. has been hailed by a number of critics as "the New Hendrix," which seems to be the fate of any guitarist who co...

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    ITEM#: 14762977

    Recording information: Can Am Studios, Tarzana, CA; Lightning Sound Studios, Hidden Hills, CA. Photographer: Frank Maddocks. Gary Clark, Jr. has been hailed by a number of critics as "the New Hendrix," which seems to be the fate of any guitarist who combines blues and rock styles at a considerable volume (particularly if they cover "Third Stone from the Sun"). While that's a blurb that may look good in Clark's press kit, it rather misses the point; Clark isn't a visionary, game-changing artist like Hendrix, but instead he's a canny singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist who has learned from the past and present, fusing them into a style that's distinctive and exciting if not necessarily revolutionary. Warner Bros. is also pitching Blak and Blu as Clark's "groundbreaking debut album," when in fact it's just his major-label debut, with four indie releases preceding it, making the confidence and ambition of this set a bit less remarkable. But if Gary Clark, Jr. isn't likely to change the way we look at rock & roll or rewrite the aesthetic of the electric guitar, he is one of the most interesting talents to come out of the contemporary blues scene in quite some time. On Blak and Blu, most of Clark's tunes are solidly rooted in the blues, but he's also folded in hearty servings of hard rock, funk, retro-soul, and even a dash of hip-hop, and the way he lets the flavors mix is a big part of what makes this album work so well. There's an undertow of Northern Soul on the dance-friendly opener "Ain't Messin' Round," "Travis County" is a no-frills rocker that recalls the Stones in fifth gear, "The Life" finds Clark moving back and forth between singing and rapping in a streetwise tale of drug addiction, "Numb" recalls the punk blues attack of the Black Keys and the White Stripes in its fuzzed-out blast, and the title cut samples both Gil Scott-Heron and Albert King as Clark melds conscious themes with blues backdrops. While the typical modern-day guitar hero goes out of his way to throw his dexterity in your face at every turn, here Clark shows off a tougher and more primal style, and though his chops are certainly good, he keep his solos concise and his attack muscular throughout. And if his songwriting is a bit uneven, he has an inarguable talent with both lyrics and melodies, and he's a good-to-great singer, sounding soulful and honest on every cut. Blak and Blu's production (by Rob Cavallo and Mike Elizondo in collaboration with Clark) is too polished and processed for its own good, but if this album isn't likely to change your life, it will make an hour of it a lot more interesting, and there's no arguing that Gary Clark, Jr. is a talent strong enough to match his record company's hype. ~ Mark Deming

    Specs

    UPC 093624948575
    Runtime 66 min.
    Type Performer
    Genre Blues
    Sub Genre Regional Collections
    Label Warner Bros. Records
    Producer Gary Clark, Jr.; Mike Elizondo
    Number of Discs 1
    Track Listing Disc 1
    • 1. Ain't Messin 'Round
    • 2. When My Train Pulls In
    • 3. Blak and Blu
    • 4. Bright Lights
    • 5. Travis County
    • 6. Life, The
    • 7. Glitter Ain't Gold (Jumpin' for Nothin')
    • 8. Numb
    • 9. Please Come Home
    • 10. Things Are Changin'
    • 11. Third Stone from the Sun/If You Love Me like You Say
    • 12. You Saved Me
    • 13. Next Door Neighbor Blues
    Format Compact Disc
    Spars Coding n/a
    Artists Clark, Gary Jr.

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