Monday, May 06, 2013

Gary Clark Jr. - The iTunes Session (iTunes, 2013)

Guitarist Gary Clark Jr. burst on to the musical scene recently with the major label record Blak and Blue, as well as some high profile concert appearances such as Eric Clapton’s Crossroads guitar festival. Clark is the total package: an intuitive and talented musician, emotive singer and thoughtful songwriter. This session has an off the cuff feel and some of the between song banter suggests an informal jam between friends. The iTunes album reprises many of the tracks of the earlier album, but is able to take a different and more spontaneous spin on them. “Next Door Neighbor Blues” and “Ain’t Messing Around” are strong, pithy performances that get the session off to a fine start. Of particular interest is his funk filled cover of Albert King’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” which has some great bass and soulful singing. Clark’s best known song is the finale, “Bright Lights, Big City” which is a crushing collage of riffs and ominous lyrics that is completely captivating. Also notable is “When My Train Pulls In.” This song takes them a few minutes to get going, but once the band establishes itself, Clark is able to construct monolithic riffs of electric guitar that drive the music forward ruthlessly while incorporating a kaleidoscopic range of color into his solo. While it might be easy to dismiss this as a fan-service stop gap, careful listening to that music belies that accusation. Clark is as forceful and serious as ever and this is a well earned testament to his status and popularity. iTunes Session -

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