Gary Clark Jr's smooth sound is energizing and invigorating yet soothing and evocative; classically soulful, but with a modern sensibility. True to the blues, he sings about universal, timeless topics. Clark Jr. prefers to keep biographical details a bit vague, focusing instead on the biography of his musical evolution, but in every note of his, you feel the music history that he carries within himself.
His recently released, and well-received, album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, further showcases his development as an artist, while harkening back to the roots of the blues.
“The Healing,” offers reverberating bass and classic blues guitar, with subtle emotional emphasis on the lyrics and mood of the song. There music and lyrical cadences lead to a sense of anticipation. “This music is my healing,” is a universal sentiment that music lovers across the globe have sought. The song speaks of the relief from pain and strife that music provides its listeners. His voice, occasionally joined by female backup singers, has a depth of sound and feeling that draws the listener into his narrative.
“Grinder” features layered vocals and piercing guitar. This song perfectly illustrates how effortlessly Clark Jr. blends the grit of rock with the melancholy of the blues. Again, his themes are classic: he sings of “People dying for this money,” and the struggle for financial solvency. Clark Jr.'s guitar solos have such power that they seem to vibrate through the audience. Then, towards the end of the song the power of his guitar is offset by the utterance of “Oh, fuck.” This jars one out of the hypnotic harmony and into a moment of one-sided dialogue that reflects the realness of his subject matter.
“Hold On” has a piano intro, and then a music beat with a touch of funk breaks in. Clark Jr. cautions that “People will try to steal what you create,” but instead of despair, the chorus offers a note of hope “Hold on, we're going to make it.” This song combines lyrics that demonstrate a social conscience with a beat that demands head bopping and toe tapping. The strong horn section offers effective, repetitive emphasis. Within this one song, there is great musical diversity.
Having recently toured with the Foo Fighters. Gary Clark Jr. offers a seamless update of classic blues sound; part modern recording, part timeless blues groove, his music cajolingly entices you to listen to more. He was the first artist to ever be nominated for Grammys in both the R&B and Rock categories, for his debut album Blak and Blu, and won in the former category, picking up Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track “Please Come Home.”
With fans including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Barack Obama, Clark Jr.'s musical renown continues to grow.