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Blak and Blu, the debut full-length from Gary Clark Jr., has an aggravated hive of buzz about it. With premier slots at music festivals and a well-received EP, Clark has the weight on his shoulders of a guitar hero who is the potential salvation for the blues.

When the album hits, it hits hard. Tracks such as “Numb” and “Bright Lights” are monsters of sludgy psych that call to mind Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys and Ten Years After.

Monster riffs coupled with Clark’s sly howl are the mark of his best efforts. But the collection is mired by misadventures in production; what could be viewed as eclecticism, comes across as unbalanced. Tracks “Blak and Blu” and “The Life” sound like ’90s R&B slow jams, interrupting the best aspects of this record.

The album excels when it wields dirty guitar tones, soul instead of flash, and the confident stride of rock bravado. At times, Clark wears the Hendrix appreciation too apparently on his sleeves, but on a debut record, it is forgivable. The potential of his albums to come are immense, if Clark manages to find his own voice and shout it.

  • Album: Blak and Blu
  • Artist: Gary Clark Jr.
  • Label: Warner Brothers Records
  • Songs: (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
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