Gary Clark Jr. Live - Rolling Stone
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Gary Clark Jr. Live

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For most rock acts, the live double album is breathing space between studio shots. This rising Texan’s two-CD set is his defining moment, a generous blast of prowess that backs up the future-of-blues-guitar promises made in Gary Clark Jr.’s name since his bust-out performance at Eric Clapton’s 2010 Crossroads festival. Clark’s 2012 major-label splash, Blak and Blu, was vigorously uneven, betraying his impatience to plug the emotional dynamics of electric blues into contemporary R&B. The versions here of that album’s bolder tracks are a more natural affirmation. “Things Are Changin’ ” has a rougher, lusty sway. In “Blak and Blu,” Clark drops the studio take’s hip-hop trappings, letting his voice and soloing show all of the bruises.

Covers of Lowell Fulson’s 1948 hit “Three O’Clock Blues” and the Delta standard “Catfish Blues” reflect Clark’s road to learning. His extended breaks there and in his own “Bright Lights” – a patient menace of languidly fired notes and figures rolled in milky distortion – show his clear, personal spin on the more recent precedents of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. This release buys Clark some time to refine his studio vision of modern blues. It also shows that wherever he chooses to go from here, he has what it takes to get there. 

In This Article: Gary Clark Jr.


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