Gary Clark Jr. was newly introduced to my world, which is a shame because his EP Bright Lights came out last year. He played Bonnaroo last year, he just played Coachella, and he will play Lollapalooza this summer, where I hope to see him live. He played at the Red, White, and Blues event at the White House alongside B.B. King and Mick Jagger, among others, this past February. He’s also performed with Alicia Keys who has glowing praise for him, and their version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is quite good.
Gary Clark Jr. is a blues guitarist and performer from Austin that is truly embodying the return of blues guitar. While if I heard this song in passing, I would probably assume it was The Black Keys, when you listen closer, the guitar is much more blues than the Keys. The end of this song in particular reaches a place that feels a lot more improvised and blues-inspired than any Keys song. (Strangely, for me, there also is just a touch of Lenny Kravitz from the ’90s in his music too, like perhaps Kravitz would be what happened if you created a watered-down pop version of Clark Jr.)
This next song, “Don’t Owe You A Thang” feels like an anthem in the making. A little frantic in the best possible way, this is the kind of song you want to dance to and the kind of guitar riff that one could also find in old White Stripes’ music.
The other two songs on the EP have great blues feeling, and are a somewhat slower, calmer sound as he plays the songs live and solo. Still, they demonstrate the kind of insane guitar talent that is so rare and I love, while also being the most blues-inspired guitar I’ve heard from a new artist, probably in my lifetime. His voice is also a little less gruff in these songs, giving them a slightly lighter feeling, and he still sounds great. Unfortunately, neither of these has videos in which you can hear his voice as well as I would like, so instead, I highly recommend you go buy the EP on iTunes for just $3.95, totally worth it. He’s making the music festival rounds too and working on a full-length album to be released this coming fall, so pay attention to this guy, he’s going somewhere. To see his tour schedule and listen to more, visit his website here.