Gary Clark Jr. previewed his upcoming LP This Land by playing two new songs, the title-track and “Feed the Babies,” on Thursday’s Late Show.
The guitarist showcased his eclecticism with the two cuts. On “This Land,” which he released in its studio form earlier that day, he leaned into the heavier, darker side of his sound – belting lyrics about modern racism (“Paranoid and pissed-off now that I got the money/50 acres and a model A, right in the middle of Trump country”) over distorted blues riffs and wah-wah fills.
He recruited house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human for the lighter “Feed the Babies,” channeling Marvin Gaye with a smooth falsetto over a laid-back, horn-heavy R&B groove.
This Land, due out March 1st, finds Clark spanning his full musical spectrum – from acoustic country-blues to dub-reggae. “I wanted every note and lyric to mean something,” he told Rolling Stone in an upcoming feature. “There was a lot of trial and error, a lot of experimentation.”
The songwriter also spoke about the real-life inspiration behind “This Land.” “I think it’s only right at this point in time, if you have a microphone louder than others, to speak out about that anger,” he said. “I haven’t been through shit compared to my people. But if I can do anything with my opportunity, and say thank you to Dr. Martin Luther King for sacrificing your life so that I can have a microphone … that’s the least I can do.”
Clark will promote the album with a spring U.S. tour launching March 9th in Miami Beach, Florida and wrapping April 7th in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by a May spot at California’s Bottlerock Festival.