Gary clark jr.: the story of sonny boy slim review

The great Albert King once said "The blues don't change."  I stand behind that.  While the blues don't change, sometimes sentiments like that can be broken in a beautiful way and 31 year old Gary Clark Jr. is a fine example of this.  

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Gary taught himself to play the guitar.  It's known that he would watch Stevie Ray Vaughan's famous "Austin City Limits" performances on VHS (remember those?) to the point he wore out the tapes from constantly rewinding and playing certain segments of a given guitar part to try and learn what Stevie Ray was doing.  Throughout his teen years he began playing around Austin's amazing music scene (a local Whitefish resident reassured me of their music scene not too long ago).  He eventually caught the eye of his guitar hero's older brother: Jimmy Vaughan (singer and guitarist of the Fabulous Thunderbirds).  

Jimmy took Gary under his wing and not long after graduating high school, was touring with Vaughan.  Due to being underage, Gary was allowed to play his set  and had to sit out the rest of the show outside.  As he grew older and his playing improved, he began to fly on his own and began incorporating a sound all his own.  He shapes the blues to his liking incorporating elements of hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz and soul to name a few.  Only Gary Clark Jr. can make this happen.  

After recording 2 studio albums under the record label Hotwire Unlimited (2004's "110" and 2008's "Worry No More") as well as 2010's self-titled EP, he gained major notoriety by appearing at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Music Festival in 2010.  Appearing alongside his heroes, including the late B.B. King, Buddy Guy and the Slowhand himself, the world was being introduced to what many critics and fellow musicians now dub Clark "The Future of the Blues".  In 2011 he signed with Warner Bros. Records and the following year he released his major label debut album "Blak and Blu".  Incorporating his signature style of eclectic blues, he won critics and fans over.  So much so, he won a Grammy award in 2014 for Best Traditional R&B Performance.  

Fast forward to 2015.  Gary Clark Jr. releases the make-or-break second album, titled "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim".  I'm proud to say he doesn't have to worry about the "sophomore slump".  Like many great artists and bands, Clark progresses his sound and not just sticking to playing it safe.  He takes great risks that undeniably pay off.  

"Grinder" is a true example of Gary's sound.  The fuzz from his guitar demands your attention.  "Hold On" very much has an R&B sound and feel to it.  The lyrical flow of Clark on this song will have you listening to this song on repeat.  "Church" comes out of left field and it's a welcome addition to this great album.  Hearing him play acoustic guitar is a change up, but it works.  

Gary's gone on record to say "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim" is very much about hope.  People often say one thing and their actions state another.  Gary Clark Jr. is a man who walks the walk, and truthfully talks the talk.  I believe "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim" is an album worth checking out and getting familiar with.  Not just this album, but his earlier works as well.  You're gonna hear a lot about this man and I believe he'll live up to that daunting title of "The Future of the Blues".  Why do I believe this?  Because "The Story of Sonny Boy Slim" shows me through his powerful, meaningful music and lyrics that he's well on his way to living up to that title.

Recommended if you like: The Blues in general, great guitar solos, soulful singing, head bobbing foot-stomping rhythm, unique music

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