AbsolutePunk.net
   Username
Password
 
Album Review
Hint: Follow a reviewer to be notified when they post reviews.
Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blu Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 9
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.25
Musicianship 9.75
Lyrics 9
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 7.5
Reviewer Tilt 7
Average: 84%

Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blu

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (10/27/12)
Gary Clark Jr. - Blak and Blu
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: Oct. 22, 2012


The amount of praise bestowed upon Texas singer-songwriter-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. is sometimes far too good to be true. And sometimes it almost seems a bit too much. After all this is an artist with only an EP and a much-praised live set to his name. A man who has won the praise of Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards and Jay Z., among others.

And while the Bright Lights EP was indeed a scorcher and showed hints of true greatness, many waited anxiously for his debut LP, perhaps it was then he would finally reveal his true talents and the endless praise would indeed feel validated. Thankfully, late October is here and Blak and Blu has been released to the world. And sure enough, the praise is well deserved and the talent indeed has been validated. Blak and Blu is the very definition of a bellwether, and the resounding answer to all of the many who have predicted such greatness.

The disc opens with "Ain't Messin' Around," a gritty blues gem with a falsetto-laden chorus and an effervescent verve that is triumphant and transcendent. Its successor on the other hand is something else entirely. Clocking in at just under eight minutes, "When My Trains Pulls In," is a howler if there ever was one. Rooted deep in Texas blues, it also has a pulse on something commercial and accessible, and it is this distinct pulse that makes Clark Jr. so worth remembering.

The title track is a R&B-tinged affair not unlike Frank Ocean or John Legend. There's a good dash of soul and 70s swerve that helps make the song a bit splashier than one might expect from a blues guitarist tackling the genre's biggest names, but somehow Clark Jr. wears it winningly. If he were to be a crossover success, it would certainly not be surprising and the strength of "Blak and Blu," is proof of that.

"Bright Lights," is a dusty, blues cut with a chorus worth remembering and a sentiment worth embracing. Cocksure, charismatic and crisp, its a song that Clark Jr. can wear with pride. Even though its a holdover from the EP of the same name, Blak and Blu is a release with far more reach and the ebullience of "Bright Lights," is something that most listeners will latch on to from the very first listen.

If there is one song that gives Blak and Blu unrelenting joy it is easily the freewheeling swagger of "Travis County," which has arguably the year's greatest riff and probably one of the sunniest, most irresistible four minutes one will hear all year. Ostensibly a song about a moving violation and a brief stint in jail, it's easily one of the most infectious Clark Jr. has ever written. Piggybacking on the coattails of "Travis County," is the hip-hop inflected "The Life," another R&B cut that waxes rhapsodic about the pitfalls of partying and staying out late. Anchored by a radio-ready chorus and a commercial sheen, it seems almost destined to make it to the Billboard charts, and also points to Clark Jr's ability to straddle more than just one genre. Blak and Blu's first half ends with "Glitter Ain't Gold (Jumping for Nothing)," another catchy albeit dense orchestration and another testament to Clark Jr's limitless talents.

The second half of the disc opens with "Numb," a scuzzy and bristling rocker with all the highs and histrionics one might expect from a blues guitarist lamenting a broken heart. But whereas many would make the song saccharine, trite and derivative, Clark Jr. has a way of making the song the antithesis of all three.

The falsetto-laden "Please Come Home," harkens back to 1960s radio with a liberal amount of horns and a touching sentiment that hits at the very core of what makes Clark Jr. so special. Slightly reminiscent of doo wop and Motown, "Please Come Home," is an ageless wonder that makes Blak and Blu that much more resonant and revelatory.

"Things Are Changing," carries much of the R&B sentiment in "Blak and Blu," "The Life," and "Please Come Home," and marries it with the blues bravado, resulting in something that is nothing short of stunning. Whether these songs come effortlessly or take months to write, there's no denying their limitless appeal and their unending rewards.

Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun," sounds very little like the legend's version of the song, and also includes a scorching cover of Little Johnny Taylor's "If You Love Me Like You Say," a song made famous by the late Albert Collins. Always one to give credit to those that came before him, "Third Stone From the Sun," sounds less like an homage and more of a genuflection. That the song is nothing short of sizzling, only makes it all the more indelible.

Penultimate cut "You Saved Me," is a six minute foray that's airy, accessible and absolutely affecting. While he has shown quite a few moments of being tender on a few of these songs, nowhere does he seem more sincere and forthright than on the elegiac "You Saved Me." The disc grinds to a halt on the wings of "Next Door Neighbor Blues," a dusty ditty that feels more akin to a b-side or a bedroom demo but uses those charms to anchor the disc in the winningest of ways.

In releasing the record, Warner Bros. chairman Rob Cavallo has said that Clark Jr. has said the following, "There was a time when names like Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye and Prince were not only musical icons, but cultural heroes of their respective generations. I believe that Gary Clark Jr. is one of the few culturally important artists for his generation." That statement could never be more true. His live set proves exactly that. And now, his first studio album, Blak and Blu, only adds to the burgeoning hype.

Recommended If You Like The Sheepdogs, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas swagger, The Honeydripper, Frank Ocean


Find Him Here http://www.garyclarkjr.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 13 of 13.
09:35 PM on 10/27/12
#2
Grohl
RATA
Offline
User Info.
Grohl's Avatar
Gary is an amazing talent for our times. Album could've been a bit better, but it's cool to see him splice the blues back into pop.
09:41 PM on 10/27/12
#3
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
Offline
User Info.
Gregory Robson's Avatar
Gary is an amazing talent for our times. Album could've been a bit better, but it's cool to see him splice the blues back into pop.
It's prescient of you to write that. Most reviews so far are pretty meh about it. I guess the hype machine has me tethered to this thing for the long haul. I've been a fan since Bright Lights, can't stop watching his YouTube videos, and just really dig what he's going after. What about the disc rubbed you the wrong way?
11:06 PM on 10/27/12
#4
Grohl
RATA
Offline
User Info.
Grohl's Avatar
It's prescient of you to write that. Most reviews so far are pretty meh about it. I guess the hype machine has me tethered to this thing for the long haul. I've been a fan since Bright Lights, can't stop watching his YouTube videos, and just really dig what he's going after. What about the disc rubbed you the wrong way?
I also dug Bright Lights. I don't want to give off the impression that I hate this album! haha I think it's a good album. I think it's what he needs to kick off his career in the limelight, just not his best. A little too unfocused, but that's also sort of the point of it I'm guessing. Like a demonstration of all of his talents.
04:43 AM on 10/28/12
#5
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
Offline
User Info.
Gregory Robson's Avatar
I also dug Bright Lights. I don't want to give off the impression that I hate this album! haha I think it's a good album. I think it's what he needs to kick off his career in the limelight, just not his best. A little too unfocused, but that's also sort of the point of it I'm guessing. Like a demonstration of all of his talents.
I'll say this (and its probably because I'm a fan boy) but I feel like so many artists try and do the diverse genre thing and are all over the place and it just doesn't work. For me, his dabbles into R&B/hip-hop just work. But I'm sure that's where most people will get tripped up.
11:33 AM on 10/28/12
#6
Quijiba
Regular Member
Online
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
Haven't listened to this entire album yet but from what I've heard it sounds great. Reviews are like you mentioned luke warm though
01:53 AM on 10/29/12
#7
InfiniteArms
Best Western Beat
Offline
User Info.
InfiniteArms's Avatar
Freaking love this album.
05:40 AM on 10/29/12
#8
jimmyeatsboys
Regular Member
Offline
User Info.
jimmyeatsboys's Avatar
as someone who found out about him through eric clapton and other blues guitarists i was actualy very EXCITED when i heard the record and heard that he was not taking the "bluesman" approach every song. i think it makes the record way better that he didn't try to "save the blues" or anything like people were hyping him up. he made a record, instead, that will get a lot of people to like a blues musician and keep the genre moving forward.
12:50 PM on 10/29/12
#9
zachff
is Dalton Russell
Offline
User Info.
zachff's Avatar
GCJr put on one of the best live shows I've ever seen when I saw him at a small venue in August. The guy just fucking rocked.

That being said, I was a little disappointed that he venture so far into the R&B/pop side on the album. I'm wondering if that was his decision, or something WB pushed on him.
02:14 PM on 10/31/12
henry chinaski
Regular Member
Online
User Info.
henry chinaski's Avatar
This guy rules.
07:50 PM on 10/31/12
Matt Chylak
contextblues.wordpress.co m
Offline
User Info.
Matt Chylak's Avatar
dude's got a killer live set, but I've yet to be impressed with his recorded material (this album included). I'll give it a few more spins.
08:56 AM on 11/01/12
kennedyAM
Every Never Is Now
Online
User Info.
kennedyAM's Avatar
"Numb" is unreal.
01:58 PM on 11/03/12
Jake Denning
@Jake_Denning
Offline
User Info.
Jake Denning's Avatar
This album is SO DAMN GOOD.
Options
More From This Author

NEWS, MUSIC & MORE
Search News
Release Dates
Exclusives
Best New Music
Submit News
CONNECT
Forums
Contests
RSS
Mobile Version
Banners, Flyers, Widgets
HIDDEN TREASURES
Free Music
Video News
Sports Forum
AP.net Related News
Recommendations
INFORMATION
FAQ
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
FOLLOW
Twitter | Facebook
PropertyOfZack
PunkNews.org
UnderTheGun
Chorus.fm