Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim Review

Gary Clark Jnr is back, the singer and guitarist from Texas brings us his new album The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, bringing his distinctive smooth vocals and distorted guitars back. This is Clark’s sophomore effort and there is certainly no perceptible slump, tackling subjects such as personal lust to the state of black America; Clark brings to the table a no holds barred look into his mind.

What Clark has managed to do is move away from the ‘stereotypical’ sound of the south, that rock and blues sound that epitomizes the geographical area from Texas to the Mississippi. What we have here is an evolution in Clarks own production, merging blues/rock with hip hop/r’n’b Clark has bridged genres, something that will be of benefit to him in the future when it comes to collaborations and cross overs but more importantly his own musical journey. The first track Clark bestows upon us is Healing, a fuzzy, distorted blues number, that transports the listener to the overwhelming, fetid heat of the deep south, setting the path for the musical journey that is about to begin. Tracks such as the second on the album, ‘Grinder’, bring us electrify guitar solos on the back of Clarks smooth vocals. The album, through its cross collaboration of musical styles brings the listener more than just rock/blues from the deep south, tracks such as ‘Love’ and ‘Church’ slow the pace, keeping within the overall essence of the album, but allowing the listener to sit back without the ferocious guitar licks of early tracks. Throughout the whole album there is a sense of an organic natural progression from Clark, a more sophisticated approach, a melding pot of different musical genres coming together all with the signature sound that Clark brings. The gentle ebb and flow of the album allowing the listener to gain a better grasp of the musical ideology of Clark, allowing him to showcase his productions skills alongside his sublime vocal talent. Although the album doesn’t continue the rousingly fuzzy and distorted sounds at the beginning it does keep the pace of the album moving, Clark making use of different styles, bringing instruments such as the harmonica in to the fold, allowing the album to move forward without being held back by the sounds and style he has become well known for. That’s not to say their isn’t plenty of deep south inspired sounds, none more so than on ‘Stay’, but it does a allow the album to take on a more mature and sophisticated approach. Throughout the album the one of the standout areas being Clarks vocals, none more so than on the laid back ‘Cold Blooded’, backed by subtle brass sounds and deep rolling drums Clark showcases his excellent vocal talents.

As a whole the album is a very good listen, a very sophisticated approach by an artist that will only keep on improving. The sounds achieved more than just the distorted guitars that Clark has become renowned for. The ambience and soundscapes created could almost transport the listener to a hot, muggy night in the deep south. The way in which Clark has created an cohesive album, each song fitting together, yet each distinct enough to stand up on there own is something which should be applauded. Clark well and truly takes us on his own personal musical journey, one in which the listener can submerge themselves in, and truly appreciate Clarks musical ideology.

Gary Clark Jr. – The Story of Sonny Boy Slim = 8/10

Matthew Kay

Single Review – Gary Clark Jr. – Church

Gary Clark Jr is an American guitarist/singer who was born in Austin, Texas who began playing guitar at an early age playing small local gigs in his teens before meeting Clifford Antone, propertier of the Austin music club Antones. Clark’s musical trademarks are his distorted guitar sound and smooth vocals citing a variety of different genres such as blues, jazz, soul and country as his musical influences. With his debut album Blak And Blu he has just become the first artist ever recognized by the Recording Academy with Grammy Award nominations in both the rock and R&B categories for the same album in the same year, winning the latter: Best Traditional R&B Performance – “Please Come Home”(from the album Blak And Blu).

Both a fantastic singer and guitarist his latest offering to tantalise with his slick vocals and distorted guitar is the single Church, with an expected release date of early September. A clear homage to his musical influences, Church is an excellent example of Clark at his best, sizzling electric guitars pierce through laidback, rolling drums underpinning the very essence of the track. Clarks passion and energy for the music he produces clearly transpires onto his latest track, creating an emotive ambience that pushes the boundaries of the stereotypical solo guitarist come singer, opening up a sense of limitless creativity that plays such as vital role in Clarks musical ethos. The smooth vocals perfectly capture the intensity of Clarks voice; only adding to the emotiveness created by the music and adds a whole new dimension to the song. Clarks vocal ability is exceptional and his lyrical prowess a real addition to his work, with the ability to put so much passion into his music, his lyrics making him stand out from other writers and musicians, making his music more and more effortlessly stylish. Throughout the track it’s clear to see that Clark has a passion for his music with his ability to portray his emotions through his songs making him a more and more popular artist. The track itself is emblazoned with instruments that clearly relate to his own musical influences, harmonicas are brought in and out throughout, creating that link to country, yet as always keeping with Clark’s own style. His ability to effortlessly create his own niche in an often over saturated singer/songwriter genre a key and unique ability within his work.

Throughout this track Clark offers up a fantastic piece of music that not only plays well but allows the listener to getter a deeper incite into the workings of the artist. The track clearly has influence of genres such as country and blues, but through Clarks unique style allows the artist to stamp his own mark on it. It is this ability to transfer his energy and passion into his music that allows it to stand out in an often over commercialized genre, that can become unoriginal and stagnant. With Church, Clark once more has proven his credentials as an excellent and emphatic singer and musician.

Matthew Kay