Brandon Chase – Managing Editor
In a genre of decreasing exposure, blues has found its savior in Gary Clark Jr. Clark, 28, gained attention when he played at the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival with blues legends Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy.
Clark’s new album “Blak and Blu,” was released on October 22. It was his first on a major label (Warner Bros.) and it shows the music industry that blues is alive in the 21st century.
Dubbed the next Jimi Hendrix by critics and fellow musicians, Clark mixes R&B, soul, and hip-hop influences with blues to create this diverse 13-song offering. His fuzzy guitar tone, aggressive soloing, and smooth vocals liken him to The Black Keys, Jack White, and Hendrix himself.
The title track features a tight hip hop-inspired beat under which Clark croons. The track sounds like it could be on an Alicia Keys album.
“The Life” shows Clark’s low-key side and the pop melody, combined with a catchy instrumental could make for a successful single.
Clark channels Woodstock-era Hendrix on “Numb.” The main riff is strikingly alike the bass line of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” but Clark’s vocals become angry in this song. This, along with slow, melodic solos make this fiery track.
The young guitarist even pays tribute to Hendrix by covering his 1967 song “Third Stone from the Sun.” The album rounds out with “Next Door Neighbor Blues,” a Delta blues tune featuring Clark playing a dobro with only a stomping beat behind him.
Gary Clark Jr. is the next big name in blues because of how his ability to blend the genre with other styles that appeal to mainstream listeners while keeping blues purists happy. Blues might have been on its way out of the music world, but Clark has brought it back with a vengeance.