Blak and Blu

Blak and Blu

by Gary Clark Jr.Gary Clark Jr.


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Gary Clark, Jr. has been hailed by a number of critics as "the New Hendrix", which seems to be the fate of any guitarist who combines blues and rock styles at a considerable volume (particularly if they cover "Third Stone from the Sun"). While that's a blurb that may look good in Clark's press kit, it rather misses the point; Clark isn't a visionary, game-changing artist like Hendrix, but instead he's a canny singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist who has learned from the past and present, fusing them into a style that's distinctive and exciting if not necessarily revolutionary. Warner Bros. is also pitching Blak and Blu as Clark's "groundbreaking debut album," when in fact it's just his major-label debut, with four indie releases preceding it, making the confidence and ambition of this set a bit less remarkable. But if Gary Clark, Jr. isn't likely to change the way we look at rock & roll or rewrite the aesthetic of the electric guitar, he is one of the most interesting talents to come out of the contemporary blues scene in quite some time. On Blak and Blu, most of Clark's tunes are solidly rooted in the blues, but he's also folded in hearty servings of hard rock, funk, retro-soul, and even a dash of hip-hop, and the way he lets the flavors mix is a big part of what makes this album work so well. There's an undertow of Northern Soul on the dance-friendly opener "Ain't Messin' Round," "Travis County" is a no-frills rocker that recalls the Stones in fifth gear, "The Life" finds Clark moving back and forth between singing and rapping in a streetwise tale of drug addiction, "Numb" recalls the punk blues attack of the Black Keys and the White Stripes in its fuzzed-out blast, and the title cut samples both Gil Scott-Heron and Albert King as Clark melds conscious themes with blues backdrops. While the typical modern-day guitar hero goes out of his way to throw his dexterity in your face at every turn, here Clark shows off a tougher and more primal style, and though his chops are certainly good, he keep his solos concise and his attack muscular throughout. And if his songwriting is a bit uneven, he has an inarguable talent with both lyrics and melodies, and he's a good-to-great singer, sounding soulful and honest on every cut. Blak and Blu's production (by Rob Cavallo and Mike Elizondo in collaboration with Clark) is too polished and processed for its own good, but if this album isn't likely to change your life, it will make an hour of it a lot more interesting, and there's no arguing that Gary Clark, Jr. is a talent strong enough to match his record company's hype.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/22/2012
Label: Warner Records
UPC: 0093624948575
catalogNumber: 531981
Rank: 2649


  1. Ain't Messin 'Round
  2. When My Train Pulls In
  3. Blak and Blu
  4. Bright Lights
  5. Travis County
  6. The Life
  7. Glitter Ain't Gold (Jumpin' For Nothin')
  8. Numb
  9. Please Come Home
  10. Things Are Changin'
  11. Third Stone From the Sun/If You Love Me Like You Say
  12. You Saved Me
  13. Next Door Neighbor Blues

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gary Clark   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Trumpet,Conga,Drums,Vocals
Stevie Blacke   Strings
Mike Elizondo   Bass,Percussion,Keyboards,Fuzz Guitar
Satnam Ramgotra   Percussion,Tabla
Zac Rae   Piano,Keyboards,Vibes,Wurlitzer,Hammond B3
David Moyer   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Scott Nelson   Bass
J.J. Johnson   Percussion,Drums
Danny T. Levin   Trombone,Trumpet,Flugelhorn

Technical Credits

Little Johnny Taylor   Composer
Brian Jackson   Composer
Jimi Hendrix   Composer
Doug McKean   Engineer
Don Robey   Composer
Gil Scott-Heron   Composer
Justin Stanley   Composer
Rob Cavallo   Producer
Doyle Bramhall   Composer
Mike Elizondo   Composer,Programming,Producer
Adam Hawkins   Engineer
Gary Clark   Composer,Programming,Producer
Ali Tamposi   Composer
Kris Krishna   Executive Consultant

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