There are some artists whose music can move you to your core and practically ascend you to another level just by sound. I’m talking the music that sticks with you. Guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. and his songs are often called “modern day soul for the second coming of blues” and they are exactly that type of music I described.
I’m not sparing words when I say Gary Clark Jr. is one of the most phenomenal guitar players of our time. An artist who delivers great production value and an authenticity to music that is now often lacking. His understanding of true blues progressions are the focus for once, more so than his great vocal range. Just imagine all the great imaginary air guitar solos Clark Jr. can provide you with!
For his highly anticipated sophomore major release, Clark Jr. got back to his Austin roots to write, produce, and arrange the album completely solo. (It goes further than that he plays the majority of the instruments as well.) The Story of Sonny Boy Slim has a underlining focus of hope weaved in the tracks – according to Clark Jr. himself that’s what matters at the end of the day. While announcing album details and a 2016 headlining tour he released two of the first singles. Let me tell you I sat listening to both and knew I was going to have the hardest time deciding between them. Then I remembered the wise words of a little commercial girl and thought, why not both? You’re getting a lucky two for the price of one today lovelies.
If you wanted a good example of the sound that makes Clark Jr. infamous and widely known in the music industry, you wouldn’t have to look much further than “The Grinder.” Opening with a rough dissonant guitar feedback it kicks the song into a dirty blues fueled groove. There’s a rattling reverberation throughout the song that drives it in between the amazing guitar solos full of bluesy licks. Top it off with a dash of poignant lyrics including the punch in the gut of, “people dying for this money” and you have a pure winner from Clark Jr.’s essential catalog. That’s the magic formula.
A song that proves Clark Jr. is an artist who can infuse any genre into his music and make it work. “The Healing” takes gospel blues up a level by pulsating with a heavy hip hop beat – for once it is not only the guitar, but a perfectly paired drum intensity that distinguishes the song. There’s a smoldering feeling that comes from the guitar and it intertwines with the lyrics to radiate emotion. Which is fitting, as the message in many of the lyrics is that music is healing, music sets you free. It’s a heavy declaration that rang true with me. I’ve never been a deeply spiritual person, but have always found music to be a powerful force.
Based on these two tracks, I think it’s safe to say that Gary Clark Jr. doesn’t have too worry about the sophomore slump. If you’re digging what you hear here and want to see him live – check out his spring tour dates and you’ll get a free copy of the album too! Talk about a win.
Tell me what you’re listening to! Any suggestions for me?
P.S. – Looking to learn more about the blues? All you need is a little info on The King.
Until next time,