Artist: Gary Clark. Jr.
Title: “Blak and Blu”
My biggest gripe with “Blak and Blu,” the misspelled major-label debut from Texas blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., is what a stylistic hodgepodge it is.
Clark feels like a man seeing a tailor, trying on suit after suit until he finds one that’s just right. “The Life” feels like a veiled attempt to emulate Kanye West. “Things Are Changin’ ” owes a debt of gratitude to Memphis soul. The title track is a bit R&B flavored, too. It’s admirable for Clark to roam and expand the audience of the blues beyond a niche boundary, but it feels like a reach.
So Clark falls into the same trap that snared Robert Randolph and John Mayer before him, trying to make an accessible blues record that does more than just sing the blues, but winding up straddling the line between two genres and ultimately pleasing neither.
When Clark shreds – and he really can – it’s a thing of beauty, as he chews up “When My Train Pulls In,” but he feels like he’s chewing the scenery in “You Saved Me,” trying on an R&B suit.
If future efforts can be less eclectic, Clark could really have something.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.