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Gary Clark, Jr. – Blak And Blu

Here’s one I bought at BMV on spec for $4.99. I have the Bright Lights EP, and I like it. So let’s see what the first album is like, you know? Well, some hold up this guy as the next saviour of the blues… Anyone remember what happened when they did the same to John Mayer (and he went all to hell so fast I’ll bet everyone who trumpeted it regrets it… just because you can play like that doesn’t mean you actually will, Mr. “your body is a wonderland…”)? Anyway. Even Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Sheppard, who played waaaay more blues than this guy, struggled to sustain after the first couple of records. Disagree? Where are they now?

I’m ranting, I suppose, because I WANT a next saviour of the blues. All the cool blues guys are old, dying, or already dead. The art form needs to remain. I’m not saying I want slavish repetition of what came before, I’m cool with updating the sound, but if you’re gonna hold someone up as a next blues guy legend, maybe what they do should be a full-on blues record. Not that there’s anything wrong with what’s here, I’m just saying.

Let’s have a look:

The 5th Annual Toronto Expedition Series, Part 8 (CD)

Rock, blues, r&b and soul all together. This is apparently the next blues saviour, and sometimes he is. When My Trains Pulls In works, while the title track, among others are pure modern r&b soul or pop rock energy with lots of Kravitz/Cray-isms.

The brilliant Bright Lights is here, Numb smolders, Next Door Neighbour Blues thumps acoustic… he even reworks Little Johnny Taylor and Jimi Hendrix together…

Modern and classic hybrid, blending genres…

OK… getting there…


Look, I don’t know why I’m still writing about this. Maybe because I care. Maybe because I WANT a next blues saviour. But based on this record, he ain’t it. I haven’t heard his Story Of Sonny Boy Slim record, maybe that’s the one. I dunno. I just think it’s cool to be able to play the blues, but if you wanna be other things too, don’t market it under a blanket of blues. I read Amazon reviews and they said this was the best blues record in ages. Those people were cherry-picking tracks, because a lot of this is r&b and old Marvin Gaye retreads. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I said to my lovely wife, you know, I’ll bet this guy kicks total ass live. I’ll bet that’s where the real money is, for him. But this record… I like it, I do. I’m just not behind it as a blues record. And yes, I am aware that blues is a feeling, whether you’re copying Robert Johnson licks or not. It’s in the message, I get that. But this, no. Not fully. As much as I wanted it to be, it isn’t. 

Hell, I played this for my lovely wife and she said the album opener, Ain’t messin’ Around, sounded like the Monkees…

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