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Gary Clark Jr.

Blak And Blu

Gary Clark Jr.
9
The expectations placed upon Gary Clark Jr. have been immense ever since he emerged from the Austin, TX scene a decade ago as a teenage blues guitar prodigy. He was quickly dubbed the next to carry the torch passed from Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, but what Clark has displayed through the course of his measured development to this point is an ease at incorporating current R&B and hip-hop elements into his massive guitar arsenal. The curious got an all-too-brief taste on his 2010 EP, The Bright Lights, and now Blak And Blu marks the official arrival of the artist sure to redefine blues in the early 21st century. After opening with old school Stax rave-up "Ain't Messin' Around," Clark wastes no time heading deep into the Delta with the eight-minute "When My Train Pulls In." But what's immediately apparent is that Clark's secret weapon is his languid rhythmic swagger, aided in no small part by a killer band, which makes transitions into pop-radio-oriented songs "The Life" and the title track less jarring than they should be. In a similar way, the album's seemingly endless variety accentuates Clark's fury when he unleashes it on "Numb," as well as his reverence for deep soul on "Please Come Home." Clark can do it all and it's entirely likely that Blak And Blu will be recognized in the future as a moment when American music suddenly got a great deal more interesting. (Warner)
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